Advanced Lightwire Functionals (A.L.F.)
What is the ALF device?
ALF (Advanced Lightwire Functionals) is a non-traditional orthodontic treatment method that uses principles of cranial osteopathy. The ALF advances (and expands) the mandible and promotes changes in muscle function to achieve long-term physiological results in improving a patient’s spinal alignment, posture, occlusion, TMJ disorders, sensory processing /nervous system dysfunction, arch and palate development, airway reshaping and can result in drastic behavioral and lifestyle changes for both adults and children. Most importantly, the ALF bio-modulates the autonomic nervous system, making this a highly effective therapy and “go-to” treatment for patients and specifically, children with sensory and nervous system dysfunction such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and ADHD. While the ALF addresses alignment of the facial, spinal and cranial bones using principles of cranial osteopathy is continues to be an effective method to align teeth in (in early childhood to early teens) and improve the bite without traditional braces (orthodontic treatment).
How does the ALF Appliance Work? What is the ALF Appliance’s mechanism of action?
The highly effective, lightweight intervention known as the Advanced Lightwire Functional Device impacts cranial rhythm and movement through osteopathic alignment. This novel approach to orthodontic systems works to integrate cranial mobility with the palate, teeth, and jaw alignment, thereby promoting better swallowing, breathing, speech, sleep and nervous system response.
What is the A.L.F. Orthodontic Appliance, Like?
Rather than traditional braces or typical oral expanders, patients receiving the Advanced Lightwire Functional Appliance are fitted with a thin, non-visible, non-reactive metal removable appliance on the lingual (interior) of their teeth, that extends around the lingual surface of the arch from molar to molar. Consensus from both craniofacial medical doctors and functional orthodontic specialists concludes that the ALF Appliance is a combination of many functional appliances, combining the most optimal features from many, all wrapped into one ultimate functional orthodontic appliance.
Material: The ALF is constructed from .025 Elgiloy wire which is a very flexible and resilient metal alloy wire; the wire applies light forces to the teeth.
Structural Elements: Omega loops are bent into the arch wire where expansion or spacing is desired. Crescents are soldered to the wire to assist in retention of the appliance in the premaxillary area. Wire cribs create positive retention on the molars and can be designed for specific molar movement.
Additional Options: Bonded composite can be placed on various teeth to increase appliance retention. Finger springs can be added at the distal ends of the wire to distalize second molars. Individual loops can be used to create specific molar movements.
Manufacturing:The ALF appliance is custom-made by a single laboratory in the USA (there are numerous laboratories that provide ineffective copycat “ALF Like” devices). Non-certified labs call their thin wire orthodontic devices “ALFs” and claim they are effective to reposition jaws, dental arches, teeth and cranial bones – however, none have been proven to be as effective as the original A.L.F. Appliance maker, approved by the founder of the ALF Appliance, Dr. Nordstrom.
Summary of A.L.F. Appliance Ability to Resolve the Following Issues
- Improper positioning of dental arches
- Improper mandible development or mandible underdevelopment
- Swallowing Dysfunction
- Speech Impediments
- Sleep Apnea and Sleep Disorders
- Airway constriction and breathing problems
- Biomodulation of nervous system
- Improved sensory and nervous system regulation and response
- Cranial Bone Realignment
- Suboptimal posture and spinal alignment
- TMJ Disorders
- Misalignment of teeth and poor occlusion (esthetic and functional)
Who can benefit from A.L.F. Orthodontics?
- Children as young as 3 years of age
- Anybody who wants to improve tooth alignment, both for function and esthetics
- Patients with previous orthodontic treatment that included tooth extractions and/or headgear
- Children and Young Adults with behavioral disorders, including ASD/ADD/ADHD and emotional imbalances
- Individuals who have experienced severe physical trauma or any head/neck injury
- Patients who have experienced or suffer from TMJ/TMD or facial joint inflammation
- Patients who snore and/or suffer from obstructive sleep apnea
- High profile or self conscientious individuals involved public engagements who have orthodontic needs beyond the capabilities of Invisalign(R) but cannot/ do not want the very visible and cosmetic disadvantage of ‘railroad tracks’ / traditional braces
What are the 4 main purposes of the A.L.F. device?
The A.L.F. appliance has a three fold purpose:
- Correct distortions of the skull by bringing the cranial bones into good functional & balanced motion;
- Correct distortions of the maxillae (bone that supports the upper teeth) and mandible;
- Develop the dental arches to align the teeth and jaw, and the way the jaws work together with appropriate room for the tongue and to improve the bite, preventing grinding and TMJ
- Bring together all the above to integrate into proper function which includes breathing, swallowing, speech, deglutition and a balanced autonomic nervous system
By rectifying the areas above, many patients find the orthodontic appliance helps relieve chronic pain and remedy some common physical ailments. Dr. May alongside other osteopathic, functional, naturopathic and chiropractic practitioners have found the ALF to not only help align the teeth and make more room for the jaw and tongue, but it also brought a balance to the cranial bone motion. With that, the ALF brought the tongue into a neutral swallow position and that has been shown to bring the patient into an autonomic nervous system balance, at which point a number of other symptoms seem to go away that were seemingly unrelated; whether heart problems, migraines, arthritis or behavioral problems – all seem to disappear after ALF treatment.
What is the A.L.F. or ALF Functional Orthodontics Philosophy?
Dr. Nordstrom’s developed a theory that a less intrusive (less bulky), light wire removable appliance would prove more beneficial than more complex and sizable devices available on the market today. The A.L.F. appliance could be fitted to the dental arches and apply a continuous light force to the skull bones, maxilla and teeth. Orthodontic clinical research and treatment results have proven that continuous light forces applied to the teeth and skull bones have a more beneficial effect than applying heavy continuous forces, such as traditional braces.
The Arndt-Schulz Law is well stated in the 26th edition of Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary:
“Weak stimuli increase physiological activity and very strong stimuli inhibit or abolish activity.”
This concept is supported and has been clinically verified by use of homeopathic medicines (more dilute substances cause a strong healing change”, micro-currents [extremely low levels of proper electrical currents cause a greater healing response]), natural vitamin supplements (better healing response), etc. 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 anatomy development and resolution of conflicting osteopathic forces that cause a plethora of issues: TMJ, teeth crowding, facial asymmetry, tongue thrust, airway constriction, snoring, behavioral problems, insomnia, grinding, abnormal dentition, speech impediments, migrants, etc.
The Objectives of the A.L.F. Appliance Therapy include:
- To resolve osteopathic craniafacial health issues and suboptimal facial development
- To address the underlying causes for misaligned/crooked teeth by use of light forces which mimic nature, working in harmony with the body
- Guide, encourage and support straight teeth and broad, beautiful smile development as highly desired ‘side effect’
- Whenever possible use the advantage of cranial and palatal growth by starting ALF and functional orthodontic treatment early, between age 3 to 8
The STRENGTHS of A.L.F. are:
- Cosmetics – mostly invisible (barely visible from the outside)
- Gentle – far less discomfort than with braces, not nearly as painful
- Stable – no need for life-long retention
- Transformational – focuses on facial, in addition to oral development; life-altering benefits
- Non-allergic – made with solid gold overlays
- Removable and easy to clean or replace
- Preserves and improves the airway, preventing/resolving sleep apnea, snoring
- 5-in-1 treatment for all myofascial, orthodontic, TMJ and craniosacral therapy
In-Depth Knowledge Section: History of the Advanced Lightwire Functional Appliance
The A.L.F. appliance was created, designed and developed by Dr. Darick Nordstrom of Hollister, California in the early 1980’s. Dr. Nordstrom recognized the need to provide more than just esthetic alignment of the teeth, known as orthodontics, but to address full body health through cranial bone development and full mouth osteopathy. From his extensive knowledge of cranial osteopathy and biology of the full body, Dr. Nordstrom saw the need to correct the other structures that were attached to the teeth deemed critical for proper function: upper jaw (maxillae), mandible and skull (cranial) bones. He soon discovered that by correcting these other components patients noted relief and disappearance of chronic headaches, neck, shoulder and lower back pains and other seemingly unrelated symptoms: TMJ, PMS, fatigue, digestion problems, ringing in the ears, behavioral outbursts, ADHD, hearing loss, etc. This major breakthrough establishes dentistry’s role in restoring patient function, health and improving their quality of life. Since discovering the A.L.F. appliance, Dr. Nordstrom has dedicated his professional career to perfecting the A.L.F.’s design and treatment approach. The A.L.F. has earned exceptional notoriety among alternative professionals due to its ability to bio-modulate the autonomic nervous system. Because of this result, many developmentally delayed children, along with those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are placed into the Advanced Lightwire Functional device, along with ensuring cranial osteopathic alignment.
I have more questions – is Dr. May the right dental specialist for the A.L.F. Appliance?
Dr. Yuriy May is Connecticut’s ALF Appliance Specialist and heavily focuses on the neurophysiological foundation of oral-motor function. He continues to be the top resource in the Tri-State area to help patients and parents better understand how such a subtle ALF device can facilitate such profound realignment.
What is Cranial Osteopathy
Cranial osteopathy is a gentle, hands-on practice in which a patient’s cranial bones and facial coverings are gently manipulated to treat specific dysfunctions, achieve realignment, and improve the patient’s overall health. It is a principle of osteopathic medicine that within the body, the proper structure will lead to healthy overall function, and vice-versa.
While the ALF treatment incorporates the practice of cranial osteopathy in sessions about 4-6 weeks apart, the ALF appliance itself works in a similar manner by bringing about the gentle manipulation of cranial structures, on a gradual (albeit continuous) basis, 24/7, to achieve similar and constant realignment results. This ultimately changes the cranial structure and nervous system responses, along with proper physical development across all craniofacial facets.
Biomodulation of the Autonomic Nervous System
One of the most critical functions of the ALF is the biomodulation of the autonomic nervous system.The term biomodulation means self-adjustment and regulation according to what the body needs to be in balance. To understand how this phenomenon takes place, read below to learn about the autonomic nervous system, it is important, and ultimately, the role the ALF Functional Appliance plays in continuous biomodulation of the sympathetic nervous system
In-Depth Knowledge Section: Autonomic Nervous System
The autonomic nervous system (“ANS”) is a division of the peripheral nervous system that influences the function of internal organs and the “fight or flight” adrenaline/cortisol response. The autonomic nervous system has two branches, the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is often considered the “fight or flight” system, while the parasympathetic nervous system is often considered the “rest and digest” or “feed and breed” system. In many cases, both of these systems have “opposite” actions where one system activates a physiological response and the other inhibits it. A general characterization of both is that the sympathetic nervous system is a “quick response mobilizing system” and the parasympathetic is a “more slowly activated dampening system”, but even this has exceptions, such as in sexual arousal and orgasm, wherein both play a role.
Within the brain, the autonomic nervous system is regulated by the hypothalamus, just above the brain stem. The hypothalamus acts as an integrator for autonomic functions, receiving ANS regulatory input from the limbic system.
In general, the autonomic nervous system functions can be divided into sensory (afferent) and motor (efferent) subsystems. Within both, there are inhibitory and excitatory synapses between neurons. Relatively recently, a third subsystem of neurons that have been named non-noradrenergic, non-cholinergic transmitters (because they use nitric oxide as a neurotransmitter) have been described and found to be integral in autonomic function, in particular in the gut and the lungs.
Sympathetic Nervous System
The Sympathetic branch of the ANS is a control system that acts largely unconsciously and regulates bodily functions such as the heart rate (cardiac regulation), digestion, respiratory rate (respiration), pupillary response, vasomotor activity (vasomotor center), reflect actions (coughing, sneezing, vomiting) and sexual arousal. Those are then subdivided into other areas and are also linked to ANS subsystems and nervous systems external to the brain. As mentioned above, a generalization of the sympathetic nervous system is a “feed and breed” or a more slowly activated dampening system. Most autonomous functions are involuntary but they can often work in conjunction with the somatic nervous system which provides voluntary control.
Sympathetic Nervous System
ANS’s sympathetic branch of the “fight-or-flight” response and the freeze-and-dissociate response, and is often characterized as a “quick response mobilizing system” with adrenaline and cortisol production.
ALF’s Biomodulation of the Autonomic Nervous System
Numerous articles have been written on the use of the ALF appliance in the treatment and correction of cranial strain patterns, torsions, side bend lesions, superior and inferior vertical strain patterns and other problems. If proper mastication dynamics are not occurring, and craniofacial development becomes distorted, the insertion of an ALF appliance may provide the critical sensory input that is needed to promote neurosensory organization. In the discussion of the trigeminal sensory nucleus, every bite sends a message to the brainstem, which sends a formative output back to the oral structures and into the brain. Thus, the delicate sensory input provided by the ALF can alter osteogenesis, addressing and relieving cranial strain patterns2 and promote proper transverse development of the jaws. As cranial nerve sensory input changes via the constant yet gentle corrective forces of the ALF, spontaneous corrective motor output follows which leads to autonomic and neurohormonal brainstem circuits reorganization as well. Rebalancing of the parasympathetic and sympathetic drives promotes calmer internal function, less sensory defensiveness, and better attention to conscious processes. This in turn, sets the stage for cognitive engagement with corrective tongue exercises. The combination of myofunctional training exercises with the ALF can facilitate proper tongue placement for swallowing and movement of the teeth, setting in motion, neurological feedback loops that prompt more effective management of oral-motor function. The ALF stimulates transverse bone growth, in much the same way as the chewing of solid and semi-solid foods in the developing child. Through its gentle and subtle pressure to the tooth organs, the ALF exerts a lateral force 24 hours a day and seven days a week. The tooth proprioceptors and periodontal fibers interpret this lateral force as sensory input similar to chewing, input that in children spurs the creation of space for the developing dentition through appositional bone and cartilage growth in adults, this occurs through appositional growth.3 Although the standard ALF touches only four teeth, it promotes spaces between all the teeth. The design and placement of the anterior and posterior omega loops encourages the tongue to assume the correct oral rest posture position, and to participate in the transverse and anteroposterior forces necessary to stimulate growth and positioning of the maxilla for the development of a palate of proper size and shape.4 In essence, the ALF functions like a surrogate or biomimetic tongue giving stability to the craniofacial complex similar to a scaffolding in the palate, (restoring bio tensegrity to the cranial-mandibular system). It functions as a neurophysiologic stimulus, as an orthopedic/orthodontic device, and it encourages the tongue to assume a more normal rest posture position. The palate lies in close proximity to the brainstem and directly beneath the sella turcica, which houses the pituitary gland. This highly innervated palatal area, coupled with the proprioceptors in the tooth organs and the periodontal ligaments transmit a subtle stimulatory input not only to the roof of the mouth but also to the brainstem and the endocrine system. More specifically, the ALF’s sensory input to the palate produces a calming effect on the sympathetic nervous system, much like the effects of a pacifier5 in an infant or thumb sucking in a young child. The benefit of this tranquilizing effect is that it allows the brainstem to refocus on issues other than sympathetic protection (survival).
A.L.F. or ALF Appliance Costs and Treatment Details
What is the length of treatment of the ALF?
ALF Orthodontic treatment can last anywhere from 12 months to 3+ years.
Treatment duration and technique varies from one patient to another depending on the complexity of their dental abnormality. Typically, active treatment times range anywhere from 18 to 36 months. Actual treatment focuses on three main phases of treatment.
Phase One: of therapy involves correcting cranial distortions by means of the A.L.F. appliance.
Phase Two: also uses the A.L.F. appliance to correct the structural distortions of the upper jaw (base of the skull).
Phase Three:The third phase of treatment may require use of the A.L.F. appliance and / or Invisalign(+R) orthodontic aligners to realign the teeth, improve jaw and teeth function and enhance the patient’s smile.
A.L.F. Patient Evaluation & Diagnostics by Dr. May
Examination of the patient may involve taking a combination of special x-ray views (cephalometric x-ray – lateral view of the skull; panoramic view – full jaw survey or full mouth series), diagnostic casts of the patient’s teeth, photographs of the face and teeth; visual observation of the oral cavity, body posture and evaluation of the patient’s skull. Once these diagnostic records are complete, Dr. May will formulate the patient specific treatment plan to carry out correction of the developing (child) or misaligned (adult) teeth, jaws and skull.
What are costs for getting assessed for the ALF by Dr. May?
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, Natural Dentistry must conduct a full ALF Candidate Assessment, which is broken up into one ALF Candidate Assessment appointment (for existing patients) or New Patient Appointment and ALF Candidate Assessment (for new patients).
For New Children Patients Only:
Length of Consult: 15 minutes appointment
Cost of Consult: $150
If Moving Forward: A full new ALF Patient Candidate Assessment will be scheduled for 90 minutes, for $650 fee (see full info below)
ALF Candidate Assessment
Length of Appointment: 90 minutes appointment
Cost of Assessment: $650
Payment to Book: $325 deposit due at time of booking assessment
The ALF Assessment appointment entails:
- Dr. Yuriy May professional consultation
- ALF Questionnaire Completion
- Full Series of photos by professional HD camera, intra-oral and Canon EOS Mark III
- 3D CAT Scan of Maxillofacial Profile (Head, Airways, Teeth)
- 3D Impressions (Models) of Maxilla and Mandible (upper and lower teeth)
- Full airway, tongue placement, cranial-maxillofacial, orthodontic and treatment plan analysis</>
The analysis will be delivered 3-7 business days after the initial assessment.
As the patient to moves forward with the ALF treatment, Natural Dentistry will apply the $650 assessment fee toward the total cost of the device . If the patient is not a viable candidate for the ALF device or chooses not to move forward, they have the ability to take their photos, 3D CAT Scan and impression molds with them to another specialist or for their own personal use.
What are the total expected costs of the ALF Device?
The cost of the ALF very much depends on the specific patient needs and the overall medical case. The ALF therapy is often a long-term and interdisciplinary effort, that involves Dr. May working closely with myofascial functional therapists and osteopathic (D.O.) physicians. Based on the time of treatment, case complexity, and coordination involved, treatment costs vary anywhere from $6,000 to $8,5000+, with the average cost being $6,000-$7,500 per patient for the device. Please call our office for additional questions on treatment costs, payments, and assessments: 860-677-2242
The Natural Dentistry Center Guarantee: We are committed to access to care for all of our patients and especially children, *most* of whom need the A.L.F. Device. Should your child require discounted pricing on the ALF Orthodontic Device, we are offering special pricing to select families in Connecticut through June 2017.(1)
Please call our office to discuss A.L.F. pricing in more detail or to inquire about our special pricing for children. 860-677-2242
What are the additional expected costs of the ALF visits, adjustments, and appointments with other ALF specialists?
The ALF Device will need to be adjusted every 2 weeks-3 months, depending on the patient case and where they are in the treatment cycle.
Additionally, in order for the full benefit of the ALF device to be achieved, each patient must also see a recommended D.O. physician for osteopathic adjustments (separate charge by osteopath: ranges from $120-$150 per session) and also commit to seeing a myofascial functional therapist (separate charge by myofascial therapist: ranges from $65-$100). The frequency of the ancillary therapies and adjustments will be determined by the specific patient case and course of treatment.
In summary, additional charges for the ALF include:
- Recurrent AFL Device adjustments: Dr. May – $175 per adjustment
- Recurrent Osteopathic adjustments by D.O. physician: $120-$150 per adjustment
- Recurrent Myofacial Therapy sessions: $65-$100
(1) A.L.F. special pricing cannot be priced below $6,500 for the A.L.F. device or $11,500 for a package including 2 years of myofascial therapy and dental adjustments.