Welcome! I hope you're not easily grossed out. A lot of people ask me all kinds of questions about braces, so I thought I'd make things a bit easier by sharing my experience so far. Yes, they can ache. Yes, they can be uncomfortable. It takes time to adjust (har har!) to them. What's gotten me through the first year is seeing the changes that have occured. Back in the early summer, when my orthodontist finally added the last tooth to the wire, I was practically able to watch the tooth being pulled forward. The rest of my teeth have also made major shifts, and it's been fascinating to watch. Being the documentary geek I am, I took pictures at the end of every month so I could see what was going on.

Below are before and after photos for the first year.

I'm pleased and slightly awed. I grew up knowing my teeth were crooked and had resigned myself to that fact. I had nearly convinced myself that they really weren't that bad, and who really noticed, anyway?
I noticed, and my opinion was the only one that mattered. So I put down more money than I did for my first car and became a brace face.
People are concerned about how they'll look wearing braces. I say they show that you care about your appearance and your health and that you're working to improve yourself, mentally and physically. They're temporary, unlike that rose tattoo on the back of your shoulder. And half the time people don't notice mine anyway! My bottom lip generally covers the bottom row, and the top row is ceramic, and blends in well with my teeth.
Yes, I gave up peanuts, pretzels, popcorn (sigh), potato chips, caramel, tootsie rolls and other such good stuff. I also lost 20 pounds. I learned to drink a lot of water. I also learned that Blistex's Lip Medex or Vaseline Lip Therapy work the best on chapped lips. (at least, on MINE.) I prefer Oral B toothbrushes and have also been using a baby's toothbrush. For some reason, I can't find the great brushes they have in the office, the ones that have a V shaped surface. I can't tell you enough how wonderful orthodontic wax is. (It's also very handy for hanging miniature items on walls in dollhouses!)

I could go on for a while. I can't tell you whether or not you should get braces. All's I can say is, how important is it to you? I've been so impressed with the changes I've seen that the aches and pains and sacrifices seem worth it to me. It's temporary. I have a year and a half to go. I'm ready for it.

Elaine B. 10/11/2004