Advanced Lightwire Functional Appliance (ALF) in Arlington, VA

Maxillary Skeletal Expansion (MSE)
Biobloc Orthotropics

ALF Slow Expansion

Advanced Lightwire Functional Appliance

My gratitude goes out to Dr. Darick Nordstrom, who developed the ALF appliance over many years and who has shared his insights with us. His ingenious mind, as well as his warmth and modesty are reflected in this wonderful work. I also studied Alf under Dr Ljuba Lenke and Dr Angie Tenholder who both opened my eyes to the world of ALF.

What is the “magic” of the ALF, and is it all in the design?

While the design does indeed need to match the patient’s individual needs, the material used is equally important. The body wire of the ALF is made of elgiloy, a cobalt-based alloy; the blue elgiloy often selected for its natural flexibility. We need that springy sensation to enhance the body’s natural rhythmicity (created by the flow of cerebral spinal fluid).

Who can benefit from ALF treatment?

  • Children and adults who want to address misalignment of their teeth and jaws while improving health and well-being
  • Patients with pain in the head, neck, shoulder or back areas
  • People who has received previous orthodontic treatment, including tooth extractions and headgear
  • Individuals who experience TMJ disorders
  • Patients who clench or grind their teeth, snore, or suffer from obstructive sleep apnea
  • Patients who have an active sympathetic nervous system and need calming of their over active autonomic nervous system
  • Patients who have a lot of sensory overload or anger management concerns

Why isn’t ALF treatment more common?

  • ALF treatment is a multi-disciplinary approach and more complex than traditional braces. It requires the dentist to spend more time with the patient and the patient to spend more time in the chair. This more intensive treatment schedule can be difficult to integrate into busy lifestyles and busy practice schedules.
  • Providing ALF treatment requires additional training and expertise in cranial osteopathy and orofacial myology.
  • While the appliances may look simple, it requires knowledge and experience to adjust them appropriately.

What Dental Lab do we use for our ALF appliances?

ALF Internationals LLC is a small laboratory that specializes in the creation of Advanced Lightwire Functional appliances as developed by Dr. Darick Nordstrom. This novel approach to orthodontics works to integrate cranial mobility with the palate, tooth. tongue and jaw alignment which results in improved swallowing, breathing, speech and sleep. Alf International is an experienced top-notch certified ALF laboratory. Often, Karol Quiroga, the owner will even come to our office to deliver some cases with Dr. Roca so she can see and enjoy firsthand the profound impact the Alf will have on our patients.

What is the best time to start ALF treatment?

Beginning ALF treatment at a young age is ideal, as physical growth is the most important factor in receiving treatment. However, ALF treatment can begin at any ages as long as the teeth have sufficient supporting bone.

Can ALF treatment be used to undo problems created by previous orthodontic treatment?

Yes, ALF treatment is a good approach to undo the damage from tooth extractions and headgear wear.

How can Alf appliance therapy act as a preventive health measure?

Underlying issues that cause teeth to be misaligned can also significantly impact overall health:

Cranial strains or kinks between the bones of the head affect nerve function and blood circulation to and from the brain.

One cranial nerve that you may have heard about is the vagal nerve. It affects all of our inner organs. If it is irritated, a variety of different symptoms can occur: heart palpitations, breathing problems, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety attacks, and other symptoms. Therefore, releasing cranial strains is a preventive health approach.

Functional breathing happens with the tongue is up against the roof of the mouth, the diaphragm engage and the breath travels along the spine all the way into the small of the back. Breathing is effortless.

One of the causes for asthma, allergies, high blood pressure and other diseases is over-breathing (we mostly expect the opposite). In a team approach to ALF treatment, good breathing habits are taught and habituated – a major asset for good health.

Oral posture and overall posture are important because:

Having the tongue up against the roof of the mouth stimulates important acupuncture points.

  • If the tongue, throat and neck muscles are toned it lessens the likeliness of snoring and developing OSA.
  • The teeth touching during swallowing stabilizes the cervical spine and allows muscles to relax. This is important to prevent muscle tension in the neck and shoulders
  • Unless the head is centered on top of the spine there will be huge forces present that tend to distort the back; the result can be spinal disk degeneration, joint problems, arthritic changes and more.

The things I just talked about are all very basic, very essential elements of good health. They can and should be addressed during ALF treatment.

What is Cranial Osteopathy?

Cranial osteopathy is a refined and subtle type of treatment that encourages the release of stresses and tensions throughout the body, including the head. It is a gentle yet extremely effective approach and may be used in a wide range of conditions for people of all ages. Our office needs each patient to be under the care of an osteopathic doctor or body worker.

Cranio-Sacral Therapy (CST)

While the training for cranio-sacral therapists is less involved than what is taught at osteopathic school, there are CST practitioners with outstanding skills who can support ALF treatment in powerful ways.

Can ALF treatment be used to undo problems created by previous orthodontic treatment?

Absolutely! In fac, ALF treatment is an excellent approach to undoing damage from tooth extractions, headgear and less effective orthodontic treatments.

How much does ALF treatment cost?

The fee for ALF treatment varies widely between practitioners. Factors that play a role are:

  • The length of treatment (2 to 4 years and sometimes longer)
  • The complexity of the treatment needs
  • Phase 1 treatment only: This involves early arch development with the need for Invisalign® later, OR Comprehensive treatment without the need for Invisalign.

In general, you can expect the fees to be at least as much as treatment with braces would be. In all practices that offer Alf treatment you will find that Alf fees are higher because the dentist will spend significantly more chair time with each patient and has many hours of extra education invested in the ALF appliances.

Why do patients in Alf treatment need to invest time in Orofacial Myology / Myofunctional Therapy?

Orofacial myofunctional therapy treats a variety of postural and functional disorders, including finger-sucking habits and inappropriate oral postures or functions of the tongue, lips, jaw and face. If not corrected these habits will negatively impact facial development, jaw alignment and teeth alignment.

Our office normally combines Alf treatment with Myobrace treatment. The idea being that when you finish Alf treatment, we will normally use Myobrace® as your retainer. Myobrace also works beautifully with Alf treatment, they compliment each other well.

Call for a consultation at 703-237-7622 to determine if you or anyone in your family is a candidate for Advanced Lightwire Functionals.