SurfCT Blog with Paul Vigario

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Improvements in Dental Imaging with Machine Learning

It is predicted that artificial intelligence is only going to become more widespread in the medical field. Advances in both the medical field and in technology are paving the way for a brighter, smarter future in healthcare.

Dentistry is one particular field that is benefiting greatly from artificial intelligence and modern technology.

CAD systems are one of the new pieces of tech that medical professionals are making use of. This system will analyze a photo, identifying each object in the picture. It offers medical professionals a vital second opinion.

Conventional neural networks are also a technology to look out for. They are able to identify images almost as accurately as a human. They are even able to identify humans from photographs.

It is easy to imagine how useful these tools would be in dentistry. The artificial intelligence programming would theoretically be able to distinguish gums, teeth, and bones apart. The only thing holding back conventional neural networks in the dental world is that there is not enough training data available at the moment.

Upon successful implementation, a conventional neural network would be able to identify tumors in the mouth and so much more. Even if the technology isn’t perfect, it doesn’t hurt a dentists office to make use of this technology. It may be imperfect, but it could see something that the dentists missed, such as a dangerous tumor or osteomyelitis…



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Using Virtual Reality for Dental Training & Practice

Virtual reality is a new, amazing, fun technology; however, it doesn’t have to be all about having a good time. Industries are using virtual reality as a training method. It can provide the most realistic experience possible without doing the real thing. It is an excellent teaching resource. The dentistry world is just one field that is making incredible use of virtual reality. They are using it to train dentists in 3-D worlds, letting them get hands-on training without ever performing on a real patient. In fact, it is expected that the medical field market for virtual reality will reach over $5 billion by 2025. Dentists aren’t merely using virtual reality to train new doctors; they are also using virtual reality in some really unique ways.

Pain Medication Alternative

Dentists are now starting to use virtual reality to calm their patients. The patients put on the virtual reality headset and are transported to a peaceful location of their choice, such as a calm, tranquil beach. One patient told the LA Times that he completely forgot he was at the dentist once he put the headset on.

Explaining Procedures

It can be hard to explain medical procedures to lay people. Virtual reality takes some of the weight of dentists’ shoulders by doing the work for them. Patients are able to see exactly what will be performed by wearing a virtual reality headset. They will be able to witness in 3-D the surgery or procedure actually performed. This helps the patient understand and gives them a peace of mind…



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Traditional Braces v. Clear Aligners

Spending your adolescent years with crooked teeth is not an uncommon issue.  More than likely, you, or someone you know has gone through orthodontic treatment to help straighten permanent teeth after they’ve all grown in.  Similar to other dental technologies in the industry, braces have evolved from ancient methods to more traditional ones that we’re familiar with today.  However, in recent years, the “traditional” form of braces that we’re all generally used to, have also seen a major change. Enter: invisible aligners.

Invisible aligners are now used as a new alternative to traditional braces and a way to correct mild to moderate orthodontic issues without having a mouth full of metal brackets and wires.  While they’ve been around for a few years now, as of recently clear aligners are receiving a lot of attention due to the convenience of alignments kits that are shipped right to your door. Here are a few of the major benefits behind invisible aligners:


One of the greatest reasons why individuals are transitioning from traditional braces to clear aligners is the ultimate form of orthodontic convenience.  Patients that opt for clear aligners have the ability to remove their aligners every time they eat and practice their dental hygiene routines.  With traditional braces, patients are often restricted from eating certain food items due to the risk of damaging brackets and having to make a trip back to the orthodontist for a fix.  However, clear aligners eliminate food restrictions as patients remove them before eating and no longer have to worry about damaging metal brackets and wires. Additionally, they’re extremely popular due to their seemingly “invisible” appearance; giving patients the opportunity to straighten their teeth, without having the appearance of metal brackets, wires, and bands in their mouth.

Improved Dental Hygiene

Traditional metal braces require extensive dental hygiene methods in order to keep teeth and gums healthy and clean.  Patients who have traditional braces often find it difficult to maintain proper oral health due to the obstruction of the metal applications across their teeth.  Poor dental hygiene while having traditional braces can result in the development of calcium deposits on the surface of their teeth, or swollen irritated gums that can lead to gingivitis and other serious health problems in the future.  Invisible aligners prove to be significantly more efficient when it comes to maintaining proper dental hygiene…



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What is Digital Smile Design?

Technology in the dental industry has experienced many different innovations that have improved dental practices for both dental professionals and their patients.  As technology continues to evolve and develop, dental professionals are finding new ways to perfect traditional processes using new innovative developments. Digital Smile Design (DSD) is an innovative and unique dental treatment planning tool that helps enhance the vision, diagnostics, and predictability of dental professionals and how they work with their patients.  “  is the exclusive DSD Technology provider” says Mr. Paul Vigario “and can assist in making your dental practice DSD ready, more efficient and technologically advanced with the most innovative developments throughout the dental industry, specifically, DSD and DSD Technology.”  “We are honored to be working with Dr. Christian Coachman and making his vision a reality with DSD Technology readily available for any dental practice that is ready to take things to the next level.”

So, what does DSD do for dental professionals and their patients?

Essentially, DSD provides dental professionals with an easy and efficient way to develop a dental treatment plan for their patients customized to their patients dental and facial proportions.  With the use of videos, mock-ups, and digital photographs, DSD technology can provide dental professionals with an accurate sense of the relationships between a patient’s gums, lips, and teeth, and ultimately how they work together to create a patient’s unique smile.  Additionally, DSD technology can assist dental professionals in diagnosing patient issues more effectively and accurately. “More patients say YES to treatment with DSD Technology designed specifically for the way you practice” says founder, Mr. Paul Vigario.

On the patient side of the technology, DSD gives you a personalized view into the end result of your specific procedure.  The idea is to keep patients and dental professionals on the same page throughout the process while making it easy for patients to communicate their wants and needs about their design of their smile; essentially putting patients in full control of their desired result. When the necessary patient data and information is collected using DSD technology, it will then be imported into the software to provide a glimpse into what the patient can expect from the treatment…



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Dental Imaging Game Changer: Dental Cone Beam CT

Dental imaging has seen a substantial amount of changes over the years.  From a simple classic X-ray to 3-D imaging technologies that are multi-purpose and provide dental professionals with accurate ways to diagnose problems, and plan for invasive and reconstructive oral procedures.  Dental Cone Beam CT, is known as a technology that changed the imaging game for the better, and drastically improved the way dental professionals can work with their patients.   

So, what is it exactly?  Dental Cone Beam CT, or Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT) is an advanced 3-D X-ray imaging system that provides dental professionals with a fast and easy way to answer different questions pertaining to a patient’s oral health.  Generally, this is used in situations where regular X-rays are unable to accurately capture oral images that could help diagnose specific issues. The major difference between CBCT and a traditional X-ray is the result. CBCT machines are used to provide 3-D images of dental structures, tissues, bone, and nerve paths in one single scan, as opposed to the 2-D image your dentist would receive from a traditional X-ray.  

You may require a CBCT scan if:

  • You need a surgical procedure such as an impacted tooth removal
  • You need a dental implant…



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A Brief History of Dental Technologies

Your routine visit to your dentist’s office is around the corner, and you’re starting to think about how the visit will go.  The tools that will be used; will you have to get an x-ray or even a small procedure? You may not realize it, but a visit to the dentist is packed with many different technologies that have not only evolved over the years, but are still changing, and will likely continue to change as time goes on.  Think back to your list visit: What were some of tools you remember your hygienist or dentist using? Handheld manual tools, ultrasonic cleaning tools, molds & X-rays? While it’s likely you’ve experienced these things during one visit or another, it’s interesting to think about where these high tech tools started.  


Something as simple as your toothbrush has gone through so many changes since it’s origination dating back to ancient China.  Fast forward to a more relevant time, the first nylon bristle toothbrush wasn’t manufactured until 1938. By 1960, electric toothbrushes were newly introduced into the market; and from there, they have seen significant changes that revolutionized the way they clean, from rotation (full or partial), to vibrating, and even a combination of both.  Today, you’ll see toothbrushes that almost act as “smart” brushes, with Bluetooth capabilities and ways to monitor brushing habits.

Dental Handpiece

Dental handpieces have been around since the early 18th century.  During those times, they were primarily used for manual drilling and extraction procedures; however, they were often hard to operate and made certain procedures rather tedious…



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Digital Scanning, 3D Printing, and Dentistry

If you’ve been to the dentist or had braces, you’re likely all too familiar with gooey mouth impressions that most patients ultimately dread.  Not only is the process unpleasant, but the final product could take up to a few weeks to come in. The good news is, the days of impressions are beginning to coming to an end.  

Now, a trip to your dentist for any type of appliance that regularly requires a mold could be completed using scanning and 3D print technology.  If you have a dental appointment for a retainer or night guard, for example, your dentist may now wave a digital wand in your mouth that scans your teeth.  Once the scan is completed, it can be converted into a digital file and e-mailed to a 3D printer. The printer is typically located in the office or a dental lab, and it prints with FDA-approved materials.  The scan gives perfect measurements of your mouth and teeth so the dental 3D printer can create an appliance that fits properly.  

3D print technology is an extremely popular and sought after solution in the dental industry; from general dentistry and orthodontics to dental implants and prosthesis.  This new technology is not only much more efficient for the dentist and patient, but it is also more affordable and better customized for the individual patient’s needs. Some of the many products that are produced via 3D printing are:

  • Dental implants
  • Dentures
  • Crowns
  • Nightguards
  • Braces
  • Aligners
  • Surgical guides

These products traditionally require multiple molds and a significant period of time before they’re ready to be taken by the patient.  There is substantial proof that the 3D dental industry will quickly expand and change how patients meet their dental needs. While many offices still use traditional practices, the efficiency, patient experience, accuracy, and cost-effectiveness of 3D printing make a good argument for some technological upgrades.  



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Is Your Dental Practice HIPAA Compliant?

In recent years, HIPAA compliance in the dental industry has gained the same level of importance as that of medical organizations.  In terms of Protected Health Information (PHI), dental practices are held to the same standard as the rest of the medical community and must adhere to the same level of privacy and security when it pertains to patient information.  HIPAA rules regarding patient privacy, security, and breach notification fully apply to a dental practice if it is considered a “covered entity” under HIPAA.

Dental practices that meet the definition of a covered entity under HIPAA need to take the necessary steps to comply with all of the required regulations.  These steps include:

  • Appointing a HIPAA Privacy Official
  • Appointing a HIPAA Security Official
  • Creating a HIPAA compliance team
  • Perform risk analysis
  • Train workforce members (staff & employees)
  • Develop policies and procedures
  • Maintain ongoing compliance measures

An offices policies and procedures are an essential part to complying with HIPAA regulations.  Dental practices should review their privacy and security policies, and alter areas that don’t meet with HIPAA regulations.  HIPAA privacy regulations provide patients rights over their health information, including dental and billing records. According to the American Dental Association (ADA) patients have privacy rights to :

  • Ask for a change in their records
  • Ask a health care provider not to disclose their information
  • Ask a healthcare provider to communicate with them confidentially, at an alternative location or by alternative means  The healthcare provider is required to accommodate reasonable requests.




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Cloudy with a 100% chance of success

SurfCT Cloud

How cloud-based dental technology is an industry “game changer”

You want to expand your practice but are tired of the costly and unreliable IT solutions for multi-practices. Your dental practice is growing, but your IT is not keeping up. You take one digital X-ray in one location, but you can’t see it at a second office.  You were recently told you need to purchase a new server…again! Are you a dental office, or are you an IT shop? The answer is obvious, so let’s get back to why you started a dental practice – to perform world-class dentistry, not troubleshoot an IT system.

Digital X-rays. Patient information. 3D images. Digital scans. Even staff training materials. So much information is stored on your office computers, and as your practice grows, that information continues to grow, as well. Opening a second or third location only increases your data and grows IT costs exponentially, while – traditionally – system reliability decreases, as a multi-site practice increases its IT demands across a wide area network.

I hear these concerns from dentist friends nationwide, often in the all too common phrase, “Please help me!” Why can’t I see an X-ray in my second office? Why does my system crash? Why is my IT budget more than ever – out of control?  I am a small it-cloud-computing-16375190_sbusiness, what is going on?

All this is part of the reason why we at have embraced “the cloud.”  It’s our unbiased mission to help you with technology and recommend the best solutions for your practice.

I know what some of you are thinking: the cloud is a mystery; even the name conjures images of data floating somewhere just below the stratosphere. But those who know the benefits of this revolutionary technology and have embraced its genius say they can’t imagine running an efficient practice without it.  Like the time they found that incredibly reliable car or met that perfect someone, they sometimes wonder what life was like before they were introduced. Do you remember what life was like without a cell phone?

Will the cloud solve every issue you may face in your dental practice? No. We’re not going to make promises we can’t keep. What we can do is give you the facts. Consider these benefits of cloud technology:

  • For multi-location practices, you can access practice management and digital X-rays in real time, from anywhere, any time, with the feeling of local level reliability across all offices, including 3D CBCT images.  Every location operates with same, fast and reliable.
  • Data is accessible across multiple mobile devices such as tablets, phones or any mobile device without the need for expensive communication lines.
  • Complete Cloud offers security technology that ensures your data is safe and HIPAA compliant.
  • Your data is stored on a secure, complete cloud system, providing 24-7-365 access to all of your system’s information. Practice management, Digital X-rays, Imaging, Scans and everything else that is part of your system.
  • IT costs are dramatically reduced, as no server or heavy computing power is needed at a local level, since the cloud can process and crunch your information for
  • Storage capacity is unlimited and scalable with the cloud, allowing your practice to grow or downsize depending on your current needs.
  • Data backups are secure, instantaneous, automatic and happen in the cloud.
  • Software updates are done in the cloud, reducing office downtime for updates and multiple sites can be updated with the click of a button – virtually instantaneously.
  • Traditional IT headaches from data backup and server maintenance are eliminated.
  • Minimal staff training is needed.

With all of these system maintenance headaches eliminated, this allows you to work with a company like to refocus on productivity, practice growth, treatment planning systems – creating an overall patient experience that has more patients saying “YES!”

With system-designed technology that creates results, that serves a purpose  – that purpose ultimately being individualized to achieve your vision faster within your dental practice, ultimately creating your bliss. It’s a dream come true for any doctor, office manger, or consultant, looking to focus on elevating a practice. cloud_stock_2_by_aisac


Not all clouds are the same.  There are many types of clouds – including software clouds and complete cloud technology – and they are quite different.

Unlike many cloud-based technology companies, we at have the ability to put ALL of your technologies into a complete, private cloud that serves your practice – we are not just putting one piece of your system in the cloud, as is often seen when someone puts their Practice Management in the cloud but can’t put imaging, office documents or financials. We at can design a complete cloud solution that places everything in one complete cloud for your practice, designed for the way you practice. This is not about serving a brand or particular product: is about serving your practice and its systems.

Sound too good to be true? Then why is it that when my friend took a picture of the Great Wall of China, I was able to see that within seconds in New York City. He was across the world, and I was able to see it. You see, Facebook was designed with purpose.

At the same time, there are thousands of multi-location practices that cannot take a digital image in one location and see it down the street quickly and efficiently. Of course this doesn’t make sense in 2016: there is a better way.

While we at like to design dream systems with purpose for our clients, we certainly don’t have our heads in the clouds, so to speak. We are being realistic when we say cloud-based technology is a game changer when designed properly for your practice. It will make high quality IT affordable and accessible for everyone, allowing you to focus on growing your practice.

When your technology system is designed properly, this feeling and sense of purpose is automated and strong enough to give you peace of mind in your dental practice and the means to control your own destiny. You want to move to a larger, more visible location? You want to expand your business? You want to access practice information, complete tasks while sitting on a train with your smart phone in hand? Cloud-based technology makes it not only possible but easily attainable. It’s not about the technology: it’s about what it can do for your life, your practice, your team and your patients.

Learn more about how cloud-based technology can help your practice by contacting


At SurfCT,.com, we pride ourselves on non-biased technology knowledge, complete integration, and a curiosity and thirst to understand your individual vision for your practice so that we can build a custom tailored system to achieve your goals.

About Paul Vigario


Paul Vigario, the founder and president of – the Dental Information Technology Company. has helped expand the Dental IT field by educating and supporting the dental community since itlaunched in 2003. Vigario is widely identified an industry leader in the areas of dental technology, cloud technology, ergonomics, integration, installation, paperless practices, technical support and complete technology office design. Email him at

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