A couple of weeks ago, on September 7, I had my braces removed. I had them on since April 2010, and during that time I had a palate expander (accompanied by SARPE surgery in September 2010 to allow my palate to be expanded), multiple adjustments and wires and elastics and gaps closed, teeth turned, etc. The end result now is a smile that looks fantastic (and certainly better than it looked before!) and a closed, proper bite that is even and touches all the way across my teeth...my prior bite was open and misalilgned. My crossbite has been corrected, and overall I am thrilled and not the least bit a little stunned that so much can be done with modern orthodontics in such a relatively short period of time (and, apart from the surgery, not too much discomfort at all!).
I'm now wearing my retainers 24/7 (apart from taking them out to eat and to clean them) and it was initially a very weird feeling but one that I got used to pretty quickly. Honestly, it was easier in many ways to have braces instead...I didn't have to take them out before eating and put them in after (which can be kind of embarrassing/self-conscious when you're eating with co-workers or people who don't know you too well) and worry about losing them or breaking them. BUT, brushing and especially flossing is so much easier and quicker without the braces.
Oddly enough, I was (and still am) a little sad that my braces are gone. I had had them for so long that I was really used to them, and they made me feel a little bit unique as it's not too common to see adults with braces (although there are loads more now than there ever were before). Also, it was nice in a way to be able to express myself (however slightly) through the different colors of ligature elastics each time I had an adjustment (usually, I let my kids choose the colors!). That being said, I'm certainly glad they're off, but I don't regret any bit of it.
The ironic and funny part is that my oldest daughter, who is nearly 8, will be getting her combination retainers/expander in a few weeks...the day I had my braces removed, she got fitted and X-rayed for her retainers. She has inherited my narrow palate and has some tooth crowding. Better to get started when she's young...it'll be easier and save a lot of time and prevent a lot of issues down the road. Better to start at her age than when I did at 30!
By the way, for anyone in the New Hampshire seacoast area, I went to Dr. Richard Miller II (offices in Dover and Exeter) and I highly recommend them! Wonderful guy, wonderful, helpful, and friendly staff...so much so that my daughter is now a new patient there.