The ALF (Advanced Lightwire Functional) appliance was developed by Dr. Darick Nordstrom about 40 years ago. In working with an osteopath (bone doctor), the ALF was developed with the principles of osteopathy in mind. There principles include promoting movement of the fluids within the skull especially, but these devices also will re-align distorted bones within the skull as well. Our bodies require symmetry and balance in order to work effectively. A good example of this is when your hips are not in alignment- this can cause the legs to be of different lengths which means walking becomes difficult and painful. The same can be said for the bones inside your skull. When the cranial bones are distorted, this can cause nerve impingement which can lead to head and neck pain.
Many of the patients who are treated with the ALF appliances have originally sought treatment for migraines, tremors, vertigo, neck pain, and even seizures. The principle of the ALF is that it will re-align the distorted cranial bones so that the structures within the skull can function more efficiently. Think of it like if your car has been in an accident and the frame has been bent. If you continue driving the car, you notice that the ride is rough- the car vibrates and simply does not run well. This is what happens with distorted bones in the skull- blood does not pump well, cerebral spinal fluid does not move well, and lymph cannot drain as well. And when the cranial bones are distorted, oftentimes the eyes are not level so the patient learns to tilt their head a bit to make their eyes line up with the horizon, and this will have the effect of pulling on their neck. So any distortion to the cranial bones will pull the neck to the side- and this is where dystonia comes from!
With children, the ALF is a valuable tool in preventing many future problems. The research from many years ago confirms that 95% of all children are born with distortions to their skull from birth trauma (that’s right – 95%!). As the years go by, their faces look more uneven – the ears, eyes, eyebrows become uneven. The ALF appliances work to make the bones in the skull more even, more balanced, over time. In addition, most children these days have very narrow dental arches and their teeth are crowded. The ALF can also have the effect of expanding the upper and lower arches to make more room for the teeth, which can prevent the need for extractions! That’s right- instead of pulling teeth out, more room can be gained for the teeth and this will avoid bigger problems later on!
One of the hottest topics these days in dentistry is dental sleep medicine. There is research that now links sleep disordered breathing (waking up a lot at night, snoring, sleep walking, etc) to heart disease, diabetes, and now cancer. There are many dentists who recommend using dental sleep appliances which open the airway and reduce snoring. These appliances to help however, they do not treat the underlying cause. Another issue with these devices is that they tend to create an open bite, i.e. the back teeth no longer touch. This can all be avoided using the ALF appliance. An experienced ALF practitioner can use these appliances to widen the dental arches and make more room for the tongue, which promotes better breathing and will stop snoring in most cases. As you can see, the ALF is an amazing little appliance that is designed for better health- for all ages!