Published September 15, 2009
Volume 17, Number 9

Sanders Orthodontics Makes Retainers a Fashion Statement

For a retainer with zebra stripes, look no further than
Hacienda’s Sanders Orthodontics.

By Nicole Zaro Stahl

Sanders Orthodontics Lab makes products for the first and last phases of teeth-straightening —study models for diagnostics and retainers to keep the corrected alignment in place.  

The study model is used by orthodontists to determine what needs to be done and how, and helps in explaining the procedure to patients. Once the desired results have been achieved, patients still need to wear an appliance, the retainer, to keep the teeth from reverting to their previous position.

Many adults who have been through the braces-and-retainer cycle will find that views about the duration of treatment have changed significantly over the years. “Orthodontics is a life-long procedure,” states Sanders owner Tom Asai. “Teeth actually have memory, so even though they have been corrected, unless the patient wears a retainer they will slowly return to where they once were,” he explains.

That means the retainer phase can last just about indefinitely. In the beginning, patients are advised to wear the appliance around the clock, removing it only for eating. Eventually, they can progress to night-time use only, but, notes Asai, for best results, the retainer should be worn all the time. “The safest place for a retainer is in the patient’s mouth,” he quips.

If well cared for, a retainer lasts as long as five years, but loss or accidental damage can occasion more frequent replacement. For many patients, especially those on the younger side, getting a new appliance presents a great opportunity for self-expression. It is not unusual to see bright colors or patterns incorporated into the support structure of the device. 

“The first fancy designs we made were tiger stripes and a watermelon,” Asai relates. “We have perfected the art through experimentation.  As kids become more creative, so do we.”

The lab also fabricates stayplates, temporary partial dentures that fill in for a missing tooth or teeth until the mouth is ready for a permanent replacement, whether crown, implant, or bridge. “That type of appliance is typically made in a denture lab, but we do that work here as well.”

Asai purchased the lab when its founder, James Sanders, retired 22 years ago. Established in 1964, it had been a family-run business based in Livermore when Asai went to work there as a technician several years before. To achieve professional certification, Asai took a two-year course at San Francisco City College and fulfilled the requirement of five years’ work in the field.

Now, with a total of seven employees, the lab serves orthodontists in an area that spans a large swath of Alameda and Contra Costa counties, from Milpitas to Oakland to Concord to Livermore. Because the work entails staying in close contact with clients through frequent pick-ups and deliveries, six years ago the company moved into a larger, more convenient location in Hacienda, at 5653 Stoneridge Drive.

For more information, call (925) 251-0019. 


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