What is ALF?
ALF is a flexible orthodontic appliance that is lightweight, elegant, and made of very thin biodegradable wire. It is not intrusive and does not interfere with chewing or speech. It is able to release restrictions between bones of the skull. It does not move the teeth mechanically but supports the process of restoring the body’s balance. As a result of these unique properties, ALF has a calming effect on the nervous system.
If you are looking for an orthodontic method of treatment that has a beneficial effect on the health of the whole body, then ALF is the right treatment option. It was established in 1980 in California by Dr. Derek Nordstrom.
Dr. Nordstrom treats many patients alongside an osteopath. While pacing the orthodontic appliance, the osteopath holds the patient’s head and gives feedback on how the cranial mechanism changes. He understands that the upper jaw is one of the paths to relaxing cranial strains.
After many tests, he created the unique design of ALF from a special material that systematically improves the shape of the face and unlocks the entire osteopathic system.
How Does Nature Arrange Teeth? It uses the tounge
ALF is elastic and its effect stimulates the effect of the tongue during swallowing and at rest. ALF acts within the physiological forces and gradually changes the shape of the dental arches.
ALF treatment is much more complex than traditional orthodontics. It requires doctors with certain delicate abilities, not the bulldozer approach of “Let’s just get the job done.” What the ALF doctor can do for patients is support the process and guide them to recover with their inner healing potential. In most cases, this means removing obstacles that prevent normal functions. The patient and their internal natural mechanism of recovery are considered and respected.
Patient selection is very important. ALF is not a treatment for everyone
. It is for patients with realistic expectations, looking for the uniqueness of a natural smile.
Advantages of ALF Treatment
Less painful than regular braces
- Removable when needed
Aesthetically acceptable as the device is barely visible
- Focuses on facial development and the health of the airway
Minimal risk to the temporomandibular joint
- Reduces risk of snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea
- It is also suitable for young children from 4-6 years of age. The device suitable for this age group is called paedo-ALF, because it rests only on the primary teeth. For this age group, regular orthodontics offers no solution.Много Подходящ е и за малки деца от 4-6 годишна възраст. Като апаратът за тази възраст се нарича pedo-ALF, защото се задържа само върху временни зъби. За тази възраст регулярната ортодонтия не предлага никакво решение.
Why is it Good to Start Treatment in Early Childhood?
Growth is the biggest factor during orthodontic treatment, when our goals are to help the child develop to their full potential and create stable results.
When a child has early signs of crowded teeth, it will certainly lead to improper facial development. Expectations that the child will ‘grow out’ of their dental problems during their teenage years are unlikely to come true for the following reasons:
-The upper jaw follows the pattern of brain growth
-By the age of 4, the facial skeleton has reached 60% of its adult size
-By the age of 12, development is at 90% growth
-The lower jaw follows the development of the limbs, which means growth up to ~18 years of age in women, and ~20 years of age in men.
-Because the width and position of the upper jaw determine how far the lower jaw can grow forward, treatment that is started after the age of 11 will only have: a limited effect on the upper jaw; less long-term stability; and a higher degree of complexity.
The photo is of a 5 year old child in 2015. The parents decided to wait for possible treatment as the teeth look acceptable.
The same child in 2019. The parents decided to start orthodontic treatment, as it is already clear to them that there is no room for the erupting teeth and the jaws have not developed properly.
Does My Child Need Orthodontic Treatment?
At the age of 4 years old, you can find out if your child will need help with the growth and development of their jaws. Here are the main signs:
- There are no spaces between the primary front teeth.
- The permanent incisors are about 5mm wider than the primary ones. If the primary teeth are not aligned correctly with spacing between them, the permanent teeth will erupt rotated or not in place.
- There is a cross-bite
- The teeth of the upper jaw should protrude beyond the lower teeth when biting. If it is the opposite, it will have negative consequences for facial development.
- Your child breathes through their mouth instead of their nose. Mouth breathing can cause narrow jaws, weak masticatory muscles, a narrow airway and crooked teeth.
Your child takes a long time to swallow and has abnormal involvement of the facial muscles when doing so.
Snoring and grinding are indicative of cranial strains and airways problems.
Symptoms of pain such as headache, migraine or neck and shoulder pain may come from underdeveloped jaws and insufficient space for the tongue.
ALF compliments the Myobrace system well. In our clinic we often combine both methods in the treatment of crooked teeth.
If your child has tidy teeth, as in the picture of the two children below, then there is no need for orthodontic treatment. This means that the development of the face and jaws is normal. The masticatory muscles, as well as those of the tongue and lips work in harmony.