Congratulations! So you have just gotten your braces or aligners off after months of back and forth visits to the dental clinic for reviews and adjustments; time to enjoy your new smile! But wait, it’s not all done yet is it? You also have to think about retention, which is an important final step to preserve your new smile in the way it is looking right now.
Your teeth will tend to return to their initial, pre-treatment position once orthodontic treatment is completed – what dentists call a relapse. It can happen even if you have already finished your orthodontic treatment many years ago, since your teeth still tend to move in unwanted directions as you age, up to even 10 or 20 years. Therefore, devices called retainers are prescribed to you, to hold and maintain the position of your teeth in their current state, to prevent relapse.
Whether you are fresh off of orthodontic treatment, or have finished orthodontic treatments many years ago, diligent wear of a retainer is important to maintain your great smile for the rest of your life.
How much do retainers cost in Malaysia? What are the standard price or price range?
The standard price or price range for retainers typically cost around RM400-RM1000+ for both upper and lower arches if you get it done in a private clinic in Malaysia, depending on the geographical area and the dentists’ markup.
In government specialist clinics, they will be slightly cheaper at a cost of around RM200. They cost around RM400 in public universities and range from around RM100-RM500 in private universities in Malaysia.
Are retainers expensive in Malaysia?
Retainers, like dental and orthodontic treatments, are expensive in Malaysia. At RM400-RM1000+ per set in private clinics, the cost can discourage some individuals to replace their lost or broken retainers. While it may be more affordable in a government or university setting, the small number of centres available only at specific geographical locations (13 universities centred in only 5 states) and a long waiting list of 3-5 years for orthodontic treatment, as well as an increasing specialist patient load in government clinic since 2017, hinder their accessibility.
Why are retainers expensive in Malaysia?
All retainers are custom-made, which means that you and you alone can fit exactly into the retainers. No one else can wear your retainers, and you cannot wear someone else’s retainers. For it to function perfectly, retainers are made exactly according to the current position and shape of your teeth, including your fillings, and therefore is a tailor-made and very personalised device. It cannot be mass-produced as a one-size-fits-all.
When removable retainers are required, the dentist attend to the patient and spend time taking records of the teeth and mouth, from which moulds for the specific patient are made. The lab technicians will fabricate a set of retainers for the said customer according to their moulds. Then, only a good functional retainer can be made. Thus, the effort and time spent by dentists to produce a set of tailor-made retainers for a specific customer drive its price.
Besides, retainers are not fabricated in-house in many dental clinics, but rather offsite at another dental lab. The pricing will then include the transportation and handling fees incurred.
Furthermore, retainers can also be costly due to rising material costs and inflation of the Malaysian Ringgit. The equipment needed to handle the fabrication of such appliances are generally not cheap. Hence, both the lab technicians and the dentists have to charge higher costs to cover their expenditures.
Similarly, when permanent retainers are required, the dentists’ skills, experience, and time spent fixing and adjusting the permanent retainers on your teeth are very crucial, hence they are expensive.
What is the cost of the different types of retainers
There are three types of retainers:
- Removable Essix Retainers
- Removable Hawley Retainers
- Permanent Retainers
Essix retainers are clear, thin, plastic retainers that wrap around the entire surface of all your teeth. They are formed by using heat and a vacuum to let the material take up exactly the shape and position of your teeth. Once processed, they can be fitted precisely onto your teeth and hold them in their current position. They are easy to wear and their transparent form means that they are more natural and aesthetically pleasing. Take note that however, you will have to take them out before eating or they might break.
Hawley retainers are made up of several wires attached to a plastic piece that sits on the roof or the floor of your mouth. The wires are bent to follow the position of your teeth so that they maintain the position of your teeth when worn. They are more durable and the dentist can make adjustments to improve their fit. However, they are less aesthetically pleasing than Essix retainers due to a visible thick wire across your teeth when you smile.
Permanent retainers consist of a wire that is glued to the backs of your teeth by the dentist or orthodontist. They are not visible at all but will be more difficult to clean compared to the removable types.
It is worth mentioning that it is not mandatory for you to return or “fly home” to your dentists or orthodontists who completed your orthodontic treatment to get new retainers. Any dentist or orthodontist nearby can make a customised mould of the current state of your teeth and make the retainers for you. This is especially true for removable retainers.
Properly made, removable Essix retainers and Hawley Retainers cost almost the same at typically around RM400-RM1000+ for both upper and lower jaws in a private clinic in Malaysia, depending on the geographical area and dentists’ markup. In government specialist clinics, they cost around RM200. They cost approximately RM400 in public universities and around RM100-RM500 in private universities in Malaysia.
Beware though, as sometimes cheaper materials (which translate to much cheaper retainers) can result in less comfortable retainers or retainers that wear out faster than their more expensive peers. In addition, standard size, mass-produced, very cheap and non-personalized retainers sold over online shopping platforms do not serve their function as retainers since they do not have a customised fit, and therefore are to be avoided.
On the other hand, permanent retainers are usually attached by the dentist or orthodontist delivering the orthodontic treatment immediately after completing the treatment. However, there is no evidence to suggest the superiority of any type of retainers, so your choice of retainer would be influenced by a combination of personal preference and dentist suggestion.
Are there monthly instalment costs of retainers in Malaysia? How much do retainers cost a month?
Most dental clinics accept only one-off payments during the fabrication of retainers. Sometimes, the cost of the retainers can be included in the total sum during orthodontic treatment. However, if the retainers become damaged or lost after long term repeated wearing, the cost of the new retainers will then have to be borne personally.
While most dental clinics only have instalment packages for braces and not retainers, become is the first and only company in Malaysia offering monthly instalment plans for clear retainers. With this plan, you can get two sets of brand new customised retainers for about RM800+ a year.
Retainers do not last forever. More than 70% of orthodontists practicing in Malaysia advise full-time wear of more than 20 hours a day for 3-9 months after treatment, and after that part-time wear every day indefinitely. Depending on how well you take care of them, repeated wear for long hours every day can make retainers liable to be worn down, cracked, broken, loose, discoloured or just simply not fitting anymore. In the event that they become lost due to carelessness a replacement is also warranted. Besides, more than 48% of orthodontic retainers were found to be home to microorganisms that could potentially lead to infection, so it might be a good idea to replace them every 6 months or at least annually!
So are retainers cheap in Malaysia?
They can be with the right options! The beauty of living in the current technological era is that there are so many options to choose from. Revolutionary technological advancement in the field of orthodontics and dentistry means that maintaining your beautiful smile after orthodontic treatment does not necessarily have to burn a hole in your wallet anymore. The advent of digital scanners for taking records of your teeth, computer software coupled with 3D printers replacing the traditional methods of fabricating moulds and retainers in the dental labs, as well as the development of material technology provides a myriad of options for your consideration.
In a nutshell,
Retention of the position of the teeth using retainers is key to maintaining a great smile for life after orthodontic treatment.
Every retainer is uniquely suited to you, and so the cost will be justified by its fit and comfort. Fortunately, advancement of technology allows you to have multiple options when choosing your retainers.
No retainers last forever so they will require replacements down the road. Hence, having an instalment plan gives you peace of mind in case anything happens to your retainers!
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