In this post we will describe the appliance that can be used to unravel cranial distortions and collapse: the ALF.
ALF is an acronym for Advanced Lightwire Functional Appliances. In this post we will describe the use and purpose of the ALF device based on the work of Dr. Gerald H. Smith.
ALF treatment is one of the main parts of of the Protocol for the Treatment of Cervical Dystonia that we have developed, alongiside the Splint Therapy with a modified Gelb-Rectifier lower dental appliance.
Video Introduction to ALF Orthodontics/Orthopedics
The following video will provide an introduction to ALF in 2 minutes.
The ALF appliance was originally designed in 1983 by Dr. Darick Nordstrom to be a vehicle in a comprehensive dental orthopedic/orthodontic treatment approach. What Dr. Nordstrom initially discovered and later a handful of his disciples is that the ALF proved to be the best instrument to unravel the structural distortions of the skull bones and stabilize the cranial/dental complex.
The ALF System represents the missing link between conventional orthodontics and the more progressive functional orthopedic/orthodontic concepts. In reality, the ALF concept goes beyond the dental realm and supplies many answers to solving the age old problems of chronic somatic pain and generalized ill health.
The ALF appliance allows to:
- Correct cranial bone distortions
- Correct maxillary cant
- Align teeth to stabilize the cranium
This is how an ALF device looks like when positioned on the maxillary teeth.
ALF is little more than a wire anchored on first molars and upper canines. It is activated and creates orthopedic forces by expanding the omega loops. In essence, it takes advantage of the force of the tongue when swolloing to expand and align the maxillary arch, palate and teeth. The force that it uses is extremely limited and light but constant.
The fact that the ALF is not anchored to teeth (unlike traditional brackets for orthodontics) allows for the maximization of cranial movement.
The final goal of ALF treatment is to achieve balance of the dental planes:
The key to making the ALF appliance work is to adjust the appliance so that it balances four cranial indicators. Only by correcting crania bone alignment will the patient experience a cure.
Aligning the Cranial Base
When used properly, the ALF appliance enables orthodontists to correct cranial base abnormalities, which in turn corrects bodily function.
Since the maxillae represents the anterior 2/3 cranial base and functions as the balancing mechanism for the entire skull, foramen magnum and atlas, it must be corrected first. By aligning the maxillae, it provides the foundation or template to build into.
From a clinical perspective, if the maxillae is distorted so goes the rest of the body. Since 46% of the motor and sensory neurons of the cerebral cortex of the brain relate to the face and mouth, maxillary distortions have the potential of disrupting the central nervous system and changing neurological function throughout the entire body.
Balance of the maxillae is critical for maintaining total structural integrity of the entire craniosacral mechanism. The dental complex via the occlusion provides the self-correcting mechanism for balancing the skull bones.
When the maxillae is crooked and teeth alignment is faulty the entire body goes into a compensation mode. This fact is exemplified by patient feedback that their structural manipulations do not hold. Invariably a dental component exists when there is strutural instability. No amount of symptomatic treatment will correct the underlying dental problem. It is for this reason that patient problems linger.
Adjusting the ALF
The following video will provide a description of how to carry out adjustments of the ALF appliance to correct cranial derangement.
The following case study drives home the importance of employing ALF Principles in orthodontic treatment.
All symptoms started after conventional orthodontics were completed at age 17. Fifty doctors were seen during the 10 year period.
The ALF appliance is designed to correct the maxillary horizontal plane as well as help realign the teeth. The foundation must be corrected first before the lower teeth are moved.
Pre-Tx model exhibits canted maxillary transverse plane. The cranial base was distorted and the mandible over closed on the left setting up compression of the left TM joint and a structural domino effect.
The following picture is a case treated by Dr. Jeffrey Brown. It shows the pre and post treatment RX of a young man who could not attend college, had severe arm spasms/tics, could not see straight, and experienced dizziness.
As the film shows, following 1 year of ALF treatment, the nasal septum is straighter, the palate more even, the cervical spine is better aligned, his eyes are more even, the mastoid bones (by the ears) are more level, the neck straighter, the zygomatic arches more level and he can open the mouth more. He is back in school too.
Cranial Strains and Maloclusion: Palatal Expansion. By Gavin James, MDS, FDS and Dennis Stroken, DDS. International Journal of Orthodontics, 2009.
ALF Advanced Lightwire Functional Appliances. By Dr. Gerald H. Smith.
Dental Distress Syndrome Quantified. By Dr. Aelred C. Fonder.
Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment to Resolve Head and Neck Pain After Tooth Extraction. By Patricia M. Meyer, DO, MS and Sharon M. Gustowski, DO, MPH
Navigate Through this Blog
To further understand our reasearch, approach and method, please read:
A Bio-Mechanical Approach to Dystonia
An introduction to the theory and analysis that support the pilot research project to use an adaptive intraoral appliance to treat and possibly cure Secondary Idiopatic Cervical Dystonia.
Principles of Splint Therapy
A description of the principles on which we base our protocol for the treatment of Cervical Dystonia and other occlusion realated movement disorders with varying degrees of neurological symptoms (from Tourette’s, to postural collapse, Parkinson’s and Generalized Dystonia).
Protocol for the Treatment of Cervical Dystonia
A step by step description of the 3 phases of the DIY protocol that we have developed for the treatment of Cervical Dystonia.
The Molar Lever
Our analysis of the bio-machinics of the Molar Lever and how dental occlusion is related to posture and skeletal allignment.>
Phases of Lateral Postural Colapse
Our analysis of the descending skeletal and postural effects of a collapsing and twisting skull that does not find adequate support in the dental arches.
A description of the adaptive intra-oral aplliance -dental splint – that we use to treat Cervical Dystonia and the orthopedic forces that it produces by progressively pushing the mandible in retrusion, maxila in extrusion and elevating the skull by stretching and aligning the cervical vertebrae.
Bibliography and links to scientific research on the treatment of Dystonia and other neurological movement disorders with a bio-mechanical approach.
Postural Colapse and Dental Arches
A set of animations that present grafically the type of skeletal and postural effects that we intend to produce over a few months by modifying occlusion and the direction of forces between the skull and the mandible.