Dr. Ljuba Lemke
I am your host, Dr. Ljuba Lemke. I am a general dentist, naturopathic practitioner, and have been an ALF clinician for 16 years.
The unsatisfactory experience with my own orthodontic treatment made me look for alternatives to tooth extractions and braces. On this website, I share with you what I’ve found. READ MORE
ALF is even more than a whole-body approach: It's a WHOLE PERSON Approach!
Using light, flexible wires for orthodontic treatment is more than just a way to create a beautiful smile – it is a preventive health approach.
The most common way to straighten teeth is by using braces. But there are other ways, non-traditional ones, that address the underlying causes for crooked teeth. Locked up bones in the cranium, mouth breathing, tongue position, habits like thumb sucking, nutrition, posture, genetics: they all have an effect on how the face grows, the jaws form, and the teeth line up.
When it comes to orthodontic treatment, there are more options than braces.
Fixed braces are a mechanical approach to straightening teeth. Much importance is given to a predetermined cosmetic outcome: no irregularities accepted! Little attention goes to creating harmony between the teeth and the occlusion (bite), and the whole person.
Rather than keeping a narrow focus on the teeth, alternative orthodontic approaches recognize the mouth as part of a whole functional system. Treatment aims not only at looks but at function, stability, and natural beauty.
ALF stands for Alternative Lighwire Functionals (other descriptors have been used as well). Dr. Darick Nordstrom, a general dentist, developed the method in the early 1980s while working together with osteopathic physicians. He soon realized that his patients got relief from seemingly unrelated symptoms.
The basic ALF is a light and flexible wire appliance, running along the inside of the teeth. Some of the treatment goals are:
The philosophy builds on acknowledging that all of us have the inherent ability to heal ourselves, as well as to guide this process.
The ALF can be combined with other orthodontic / orthopedic approaches as deemed necessary.
The most significant difference might be the practitioner’s attitude: we build on the core foundation that our bodies have inherent wisdom. As doctors, we want to be facilitators of the healing process but we don’t want to dictate the course of treatment.
The ALF appliance has some special properties:
The applied forces stay within the physiologic limit and therefore stimulate the body’s healing ability.
ALF treatment offers opportunities to improve a patient’s well-being on all levels: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
ALF treatment facilitates a child’s face to develop forward and can improve jaw alignment in grown individuals.
Preservation and improvement of the airway are of high priority.
Well-aligned teeth and a beautiful smile are a natural treatment outcome.
Physical growth is the most potent factor supporting ALF treatment. Therefore, starting patients at a young age is ideal, but ALF treatment can begin at any age as long as the teeth have sufficient bone support.
Growth is our biggest ally during orthodontic treatment when our goals are to help a child develop its full potential and to create stable results.
When a child has early signs of crowded teeth, poor facial development will occur. The expectation that the child will “grow out” of its dental problems during the teenage years is unlikely to come true for the following reasons:
The maxilla follows the growth pattern of the brain:
By age 4, the facial skeleton has reached 60% of its adult size;
By age 12, 90% of growth has occurred.
The mandible follows the development of the extremities which means growth in females until the age of ~18, in males until ~ 20 or 22.
Since the width and position of the upper jaw determines how much the lower jaw can grow forward, treatment initiated after age 11 has only a limited impact on the maxillary position, has less long-term stability, and a higher degree of complexity.
As early as age four, you can tell whether your child will need help with jaw growth and development.
Here are the telltale signs:
As permanent teeth erupt, watch out for
Yes, ALF treatment is a good modality to undo damage from tooth extractions and headgear wear.
Cranial osteopathy is a refined and subtle type of
diagnosis and 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.
Orofacial myofunctional therapy treats a variety of postural and functional disorders including sucking habits and inappropriate oral postures or functions of the muscles of the tongue, lips, jaw, and face. Unless corrected, these habits negatively influence facial development, as well as jaw and teeth alignment.
International Association of Orofacial Myology, www.iaom.com
Academy of Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy, www.myoacademy.net
ALF Course for Dentists and Healthcare Practitioners
ALF (Alternative Lightwire Functionals) is a holistic approach to orthodontic treatment. No matter whether you are a novice to ALF treatment or a veteran: this course is an outstanding tool to get you started and/or deepen your understanding of ALF.DETAILS