What is The ALF Appliance?
The ALF appliance (Advanced Lightwire Functionals) is designed to encourage, assist and guide proper growth and development of oral structures consistent with principles of cranial osteopathy. Simply, it is a light, flexible wire that is custom designed to adapt to your existing teeth. But it is significantly more than that! The ALF, through gentle structural support and proprioceptive stimulation, bio-modulates the autonomic nervous system, making this a highly effective therapy for those with developmental abnormalities or chronic dysfunction. By creating a safe sensory stimulus, the ALF appliance stimulates releases in the body, allowing movement and growth to occur naturally and safely, with minimal forces, in the direction of optimal form and function. This is what separates therapy with the lightweight, elegant ALF from that of the bulky, bulldozer-like “palatal expanders” of traditional orthodontics. Mechanical movement guided by appliances is much more efficient and effective in a lubricated environment (the ALF in harmony with supportive cranial movement and proper function/swallowing) than in a rusted environment (the palatal expander isolated from supportive cranial movement and inhibitory of proper swallowing).
Why Is the ALF Appliance So Effective?
Firstly, this simple but elegant design provides a constant proprioceptive (the sense of where our body is in space) outline of hard palate, signaling the sensors in the brain in the same way as if the tongue were occupying its position filling the hard palate. This stimulus has an immediate and constant calming effect to the autonomic nervous system—think of an infant’s immediate calming to a pacifier (we are all just big infants anyway!).
Secondly, the ALF’s precise placement at the gum line provides a scaffolding to the teeth during chewing, again providing the brain with input that all teeth are present and supported.
Finally, the thin, flexible wire that forms the ALF appliance (as opposed to stiff wires generally used in traditional orthodontics) allows the bones of the skull—and teeth--to move in their normal rhythm, and, when the ALF is activated, provides a gentle, light force on the teeth and the jaws. A light force is all that is required in orthodontic therapy using the ALF, as the ALF is designed to work in conjunction with the normal muscle forces generated during chewing, swallowing, and speaking—it’s a team approach of facilitation that creates more stable, biologic changes. The efficacy of these change-inducing light forces are well known. The Arndt-Schulz Law states: “Weak stimuli increase physiological activity and very strong stimuli inhibit or abolish activity.” This law is similar to that of homeopathic medicines: more dilute substances cause a stronger healing change. The A.L.F. appliance follows the Arndt-Schultz Law by applying a light, continuous force to the teeth and skull bones, resulting in proper anatomical development and resolution of conflicting osteopathic forces.
Conditions Addressed By ALF Therapy
- Crowding/Spacing of teeth
- Improper jaw position/development
- Improper Lip position and function
- Mouth breathing
- Tongue thrusting
- Poor sleep quality/quantity
- Destructive oral habits (nail/object biting, thumb sucking, clenching/grinding, etc.)
- Chronic head/neck shoulder aches, etc.
- Temporo-mandiblular Joint Disease (TMJ)
Not everyone may be a candidate for the ALF Orthodontic Device. In order to establish whether a patient is a candidate for the ALF Therapy, Dr. Lee must conduct a full ALF Candidate Consultation, which provides information about ALF therapy and establishes early screening for compatibility. If compatibility is established, a more thorough, ALF Comprehensive Exam is scheduled. Should a patient go forward with the Comprehensive Exam subsequent to the Candidate Consultation, the Consultation fee will be credited towards the Comprehensive Exam fee
For New Patients Only: ALF Candidate Consultation
Length of Consult: 15 minutes
Cost of Consult: $150
ALF Comprehensive Examination (all adult patients & children post-ALF-consult)
Length of Appointment: 60 minutes
Cost of Assessment: $750
Payment to Book: $350 deposit due at time of booking assessment
Note: Consultation fee of $150 credited toward Comprehensive Exam Fee
The ALF Comprehensive Exam entails:
- Examination of all intra oral and extra oral structures related to posture, airway, chewing and swallowing
- ALF Questionnaire Completion
- Full Series of Intra Oral and Postural Photos
- 3D CAT Scan of Maxillofacial Profile (Head, Airways, Teeth)
- Models of Upper and Lower Teeth
A Treatment Plan Proposal will be presented within 10 business days of the Comprehensive Exam. Therapy that utilizes the ALF appliance commonly involves co-therapy with specialists who understand and complement our work. Dr. Lee often works in tandem with Osteopaths, Chiropractors, Oral Myotherapists, Acupuncturists, and Physicians. Recommendations for co-therapies will be discussed at the time of the treatment plan proposal.
If the patient is not a viable candidate for the ALF device or chooses not to move forward, all records produced in the diagnostic evaluation (photos, 3D CAT Scan and impression molds) are available for consultations with other specialists.
How Do I Get Started?
Sausalito Dentistry has been serving the San Francisco Bay Area, including San Francisco, Sausalito, Mill Valley, Tiburon/Belvedere, Corte Madera, Larkspur, San Rafael, Novato and Marin County for over 30 years.