The Alternative (Active) Light Wire Functional (ALF) appliance was developed by Dr. Darick Nordstrom of Hollister, California in the early 1980´s. Dr. Nordstrom observed that after the correction of the malrelationship (misalignment) of the upper and lower jaw, the patient would report relief of TMJ pain, facial pain, neck pain, chronic headaches and shoulder pain, along with other seemingly unrelated symptoms: fatigue, poor sleep, digestion problems, ringing in the ears, hearing loss, light sensitivity, sound sensitivity, throat pain etc. These observations by Dr. Nordstrom and the development of the ALF appliance has allowed the restoration the patient’s function, improve patient oral health and improve their quality of life. Since discovering the ALF appliance, Dr. Nordstrom has constantly improved the ALF appliance design and ALF treatment approach.
The ALF (Alternative Lightwire Functional) Appliance is a light wire appliance that is fitted to the dental arches to provide a continuous light force to the jaw bones and teeth, which is more beneficial that applying heavy continuous forces.
The Arndt-Schulz Law states: “Weak stimuli increase physiological activity and very strong stimuli inhibit or abolish activity.”
The ALF appliance follows Arndt-Schultz Law by applying a light, continuous force to the teeth and skull bones to allow harmony between the facial bones, jaw bones, muscles, TMJ and airway.Correct distortions of the upper jaw (Maxilla) and lower jaw (narrow, underbite, overbite, overjet, deep bite, crossbite, or open bite.
1. Correct distortions of the skull (seen as facial asymmetry – i.e. one side of the face is longer, one ear is higher, one eye is higher, mastoid process on one side is higher)
2. Correct distortions of the upper jaw (Maxilla) and lower jaw (such as narrow, underbite, overbite, overjet, deep bite, crossbite, open bite or can’t bite)
3. Correct upper and lower teeth alignment which improves the bite.
Skull bones (seen as facial asymmetry – i.e. one side of the face is longer, one ear is higher, one eye is higher, mastoid process on one side is higher) and jaw bones (such as narrow, underbite, overbite, overjet, deep bite, crossbite or open bite) can have structural distortions. These structural distortions can develop from birthing trauma, genetics, environmental (i.e. mouth breathing due to enlarged adenoids and tonsils), epigenetics, or trauma (i.e. motor vehicle auto accidents, contact sports injury or any trauma to the head).
The patient evaluation involves a combination of a clinical exam, imaging (cephalometric x-ray – lateral view of the skull; panoramic view full jaw survey, full mouth series, CBCT, or MRI’s), diagnostic casts of the patient´s teeth and photographs of the face and teeth. Once the diagnostic records are completed and analyzed, a customized treatment plan is made for each individual patient.
The active ALF appliance treatment time can vary from 18 to 36 months and the technique is customized to the needs of each patient’s skeletal and dental distortion problems in order to allow for its correction.
There are 3 phases of the ALF Appliance Therapy: