I created this journal and this website for any adult who is considering dental braces. It was 2001, I had just turned 42, and have been considering braces for the past 10 years. I’d probably gone to at least a half-dozen orthodontists over these years. They all told me the same thing: four teeth must be removed, I have an open bite, and I must have full braces for two years. One even told me I needed tongue thrust therapy (which sounds much more erotic than I’m sure it actually is).
The last orthodontist I saw wanted me to wear head gear, and warned that my profile might change dramatically. That was enough for me to chicken out, after spending several hundred dollars on x-rays and molds. At the time, my youngest daughter was an infant, and head gear was out of the question because I knew she would always be grabbing onto it. And change my profile?! Yowza, what would that look like?!
My husband of 16 years loved me no matter how crooked my teeth are. He made this clear time and again. But, he pointed out; I’d look better with straight teeth. The fact that they are crooked comes as a surprise to most of my friends and even my relatives. The crookedest teeth are the bottom ones, which I usually don’t show when I smile (a camouflage maneuver I learned from an early age). They’d gotten worse over the past 10 years, which annoyed me.
Why didn’t I get braces as a child? Money: my parents didn’t have any. I also think my childhood dentist was lousy.
Why did I finally get braces in my 40s? For one thing, Hubby’s new job had a great orthodontic plan, which was extended to adults. It would pay for almost half the cost (the total cost is $4,800, and the plan pays $2,000). With so many companies slimming down their benefits, I was afraid that if I didn’t take advantage now, it will just cost us more in the future. Secondly, I really want to have straight teeth, for the first time in my life.
My treatment lasted almost three years. My braces came off in December, 2004. I wore Clarity ceramic brackets on top, and traditional metal brackets on bottom. After the braces came off, my saga continued through Hawley retainers and some aesthetic/functional bonding. You can see photos of my progress on my Photos Page.
So let me tell you a little bit about myself. I live in northern California and have two daughters. I’m a stay-at-home Mom who also works part time on sporadic Technical Writing contracts. In other words, I sometimes write software manuals for companies, usually from home. I did that full-time on-site before having my kids. But most of the time, I’m a Mom, doing what we Moms do: lots of driving around, cleaning, picking up, cooking, and kissing away my kids’ owies, trying to find time to exercise, and pursue my hobbies (playing guitar and writing). (Update for 2020: my kids are now young adults and no longer living at home; my husband and I are now “empty nesters!”)
But wait, there’s more! Home improvement! After living in our house for eight years, we have finally decided to make some changes. Big changes. A remodeled kitchen (new countertops, refaced cabinets, new stoves, new floor, new sink, new fixtures), new windows in the entire house, new sliding patio doors, a new front entry door, a new roof and gutters (the current ones leaked), a paint job and glass doors for the dowdy fireplace, a paint job for the exterior of the house, landscaping, upgraded automatic sprinkler system (the current one was half-assed), re-do and improve my daughter’s room, make some minor improvements in our master bathroom, a little paint here, a little wallpaper there, and maybe (if I can convince Hubby), new carpet for the living room. And our one luxury item: a hot tub (spa) for our deck. I’m sure there are a few things I’ve left out, but you get the picture. Lots of details and dust.
Yes, all that, plus working sometimes, plus all the Mom stuff. And then add braces. Was I a glutton for punishment, or what?!
I went into all this with more than a little trepidation, but a great amount of determination. In the ensuing three years, my home was improved, and so was my smile. As Hubby remarked, the years would pass whether I got braces or not.
I decided to call my journal “Of Braces & Home Improvement” because that’s what it’s about: the braces were improving my teeth, while at the same time the contractors were improving my house. This journal doesn’t include every minuscule detail of my life: all the Brownie meetings, the birthday parties, the schlepping. That would be way too tedious. I’m just focusing on two things: dental braces and home improvement. (Note: it’s a journal, not a blog, because blogs weren’t fully developed until I was doing this for a few years already — remember, this all happened during the early days of the internet). It’s in blog format now because, in 2019, I did a major redesign of ArchWired.com using WordPress.
So, if you are like me, and have waited all these years to take the plunge with braces, read this journal. I have been brutally honest. If it hurt like hell, I said so. If it wasn’t so bad, I said so. But you’ll get the truth — or at least my truth, anyway. Maybe it will help you make your own decision. Hopefully my teeth will wind up straight, and my contractors won’t screw anything up too badly (Oh, the horror stories I hear from friends who have gone through home improvement….)
If you’re new to braces, you may want to read Braces 101, which contains helpful information for “newbies.”
If you want to read the journal from the beginning, start with the entry from December 2001. It begins just two days after I bought my new GE stoves from the appliance store. We were replacing a circa-1970 avocado green double electric range (otherwise known as a “high-low”), which was quite an eyesore, and which, God knows, I’d put up with long enough.