Digital Services

What should I be thinking about when considering a switch to digital models?

Take a good look at how you are currently using your plaster models to determine which software product will best fit your needs.


Desired use FREE OrthoViewer Standard OrthoAnalyzer Premium OrthoAnalyzer
Patient/Parent Consultation View digital model in 3D with full rotation – open and articulated – zoom capabilities Diagnostic measurement and analytical tools. Reports of arch length deficiencies, etc. Prepare post treatment model to show possibilities of treatment
Treatment Phase Access models chairside via local network or stand-alone PC. Check progress based on analysis No additional benefit
Retentive Phase Create retainer from the same scan as for final models Prepare final case analysis for presentation Manipulate teeth to create Spring Aligners or Star Aligners.
Record Storage Easily view archived models and created printed photos if necessary Document storage location of record models No additional benefit
What hardware will I need to run a digital model system?

OrthoViewer may be used on a computer of any size with an internet connection.  If you purchase an upgrade to OrthoAnalyzer, you may be required to upgrade to a larger system.  3Shape systems are created for PC based computers.  Mac computers with PC capabilities will work but will not be supported by 3Shape.

What do I do to begin ordering digital models?

Request shipping materials by calling NorthStar at 800-346-0011, emailing [email protected] or by completing a request through the contact page of this website.  You will receive prescription sheets, bags for impressions, packaging foam to protect hard models, pre-paid UPS shipping labels and shipping boxes.  Simply package your model or impression, complete a prescription and hand off to any UPS driver.

How accurate do the models I send need to be?

As with any laboratory fabrication, the better the model the better the final product.  Models should accurately show the teeth, gingival margins and as much soft tissue as is possible.  The production of virtual bases allows a fine finished look with less than perfect vestibular extension.  No bases need to be added to the models – a simple ‘flip-pour’ is sufficient and preferred.

Are there different quality levels of digital models available?

As with plaster models, NorthStar produces progress, standard complete and ABO Standard models.  The progress model will be created exactly as the model provided, the standard models are ‘cleaned’ to remove blebs and to fill minor holes, and the ABO models receive ultimate attention for perfection.

When can I expect my models returned?

Once we have received your models we ask for three days in lab.  Since delivery is instant, there is no need to wait for traditional delivery service.  Under normal circumstances you should have your models back a week from the date sent.

Does NorthStar keep my models digital files?

Yes, we will keep your completed models close at hand for a period of three months.  After that time they will be archived and still available if needed.  However, please do not depend on NorthStar as your only back-up. Protection of delivered data files is your responsibility and NorthStar will not be held liable in the event that files are lost due to circumstances beyond our control.

What if I need a hard model?

NorthStar is one of the few labs with an onsite model printer.  Resin models may be made from any digital model, either as a basic working model or with the addition of the virtual base.  Costs are based on the amount of material needed for the completion of the model.

Does NorthStar suggest any specific intraoral scanner?

We are extremely excited about 3Shape’s newest addition – the TRIOS intraoral scanner.  It is smaller, faster, easier to operate, and has more capabilities than the current scanners on the market.  There are no proprietary limitations with the Trios – you choose where to have your lab work produced.

Will a switch to digital models cost more or less than traditional plaster models?

The steps required for sending in a hard model for production of a scanned digital model will definitely be cost saving.  The impression does not need to be as precisely extended, the pour does not need to accommodate trimmed bases, shipping to the lab is less because of the reduced amount of plaster, NorthStar’s lab fees for digital models is approximately 1/3 less than the fee for plaster models, and return to your office from the lab is FREE through our Web Portal.  Beyond these savings, only you can determine what model storage space costs in dollars and frustration.

Models? Impressions? Which should I send?

NorthStar recommends providing a poured plaster model, even though we have the capability of scanning impressions directly.  When an impression scan is made, it is vital that we be supplied with an extremely accurate PVS bite registration.  That registration will also be scanned and used to determine the occlusion and cannot be manipulated in any way.  If the bite registration is open even slightly or displaced in any way the models will not occlude correctly in their 3D form.  When hard models are to be scanned it is possible to supply a simple wax bite or even no bite at all.  NorthStar is able to hand articulate the models for an occlusion scan and could repeat the process in the event the completed 3D models do not articulate correctly.

How will the bases of my digital models be ‘trimmed’?

NorthStar’s standard is the Tweed trim, with the buccal of the upper trimmed to 55 degrees, the buccal of the lower trimmed to 65 degrees and the heels trimmed parallel to the lower buccal surface.  Standard height is 2 ¾ inches with the anatomical portion filling 2/3 of the model space.  Our software accommodates up to 6 different trim specifications if you are accustomed to a trim other than our standard.  Call for details.

How will I receive my finished models?

When an account is established we will also create your Web Portal account.  The portal is a web site that allows you to log in with a user name and password (HIPAA compliant) to retrieve the digital file.  You will receive FREE OrthoViewer software to install (instructions will be included) at the time your first order has been posted to the Portal.  Whenever a new model is delivered you will receive an email alerting you and providing a quick link for access.

How should I keep the models once I have them back?

If you have chosen to use either version of OrthoAnalyzer software you will be able to directly import your models into any PC based Patient Management system.

If you do not wish to use OrthoAnalyzer software or do not have a Patient Management system you will have to determine the best storage for use of your models, whether they are kept in a single digital model folder arranged by name or in alphabetic folders arranged by date, etc.  You may want them on a network or on a standalone, whatever works best.  If you need help talking through your needs, please call and we will share what your colleagues have decided works best for them.

I prefer the look of white models – are they available?

3Shape has found that for maximum clarity ‘yellow stone’ models provide the best shadowing.  For that reason the yellow models are the only color available with the FREE OrthoViewer software.  An upgrade to either the Standard of Premium versions of OrthoAnalyzer will allow you to select various medium colors.

Digital orthodontics is great – what can I do in addition to diagnostic models?

No one likes to have impressions taken, so be the first in your area to be an impression free office!  Intraoral scanners that are currently available can be used for producing digital files that NorthStar can use to produce working models for the construction of any of our many orthodontic appliances.  Not only do these appliances fit more precisely, they can be easily replaced if lost or broken without a new scan – NorthStar will keep all appliance model files assessable for the life of the appliance.

I own an intraoral scanner – can I send digital files for creation of digital record models?

Yes, NorthStar has the ability to work with any files in .STL, which is the universal CadCam format.  Instructions for exporting in .STL are available for iTero™ and OrthoCad™ users and can be found in the Resources section of our website.