Why Many Dentists Give Up on ALF Treatment

Nov 26, 2016

Many dentists are intrigued by reports of seemingly miraculous effects of ALF treatment. Yet, using ALF for their patients leaves them frustrated and giving up soon. These are the main stumbling stones:

  • first and foremost: a lack of skills in treatment planning, designing and adjusting the ALF
  • lack of applying ALF philosophy
  • failure to incorporate myofunctional therapy and osteopathic treatment
  • unrealistic promises to patients
  • absence of a support group

Osteopaths are looking for ALF dentists
An osteopathic physician shared his experience:
“Looking for an ALF provider, I talked to several orthodontists close to me that have used the ALF: they have all given up on it.
I got the impression that they didn’t feel they could accomplish their normal quality of results with it. This makes me wonder whether that is just the old familiarity and not totally drinking the Cranial Osteopathy Koolaid, or if the ALF indeed produces inferior results. What are your thoughts on this?”

I will say with conviction that the ALF does not produce inferior results. Instead I see challenges in several areas:

Lack of skills adjusting the ALF
I have seen dentists who looked at the ALF and decided there is not much to it; therefore adjustments should be a piece of cake. In reality, a lot of thought and experimenting with a mock ALF is needed to make appropriate adjustments.
I consider this the biggest part of learning the ALF and dedicate two full units of my course to hands-on exercises.

Lack of skills or diligence in diagnosis and treatment planning

Without good diagnostic records and a well thought-out treatment plan, we are flying by the seats of our pants.
AAGO session 1 provides you with what is needed, no matter what orthodontic modality you want to use: www.AAGO.com.

Lack of understanding and applying the ALF philosophy

The ALF is meant to be a supportive appliance, NOT a mechanical one. As practitioners, we want to help remove obstacles to the patient’s healing process – rather than trying to impress our own will on it.

Failure to incorporate myofunctional and osteopathic modalities
Dr. Darick Nordstrom developed the ALF while working together with osteopathic physicians. Taking a team approach to treatment allows the most profound improvements for the patient.
In case there is no team in place (yet), I encourage ALF dentists to simply do the best they can. Training in cranial osteopathy is available through

Two organizations teach myofunctional therapy:

Over-promising results

Without personal ALF experience, dentists may get carried away and make unrealistic promises, for example “the ALF can do it all”, or “patients have reported miracle healing”.
The better mindset is to underpromise and overdeliver.

Failure to consult about problems with experienced ALF practitioners
When the going gets tough while treating your first ALF cases, it is invaluable to have a support group. ASK for guidance instead of giving up. Don’t feel embarrassed or incompetent – everybody starts with similar questions. We tend to trip over the same stumbling stones, and somebody already has a solution to the problem you are dealing with.

You find a diverse, knowledgeable group of practitioners in the AAGO community, www.AAGO.com. As a member, you can post questions on the AAGOmembership Yahoo group for powerful brainstorming with others.

Warm personal regards,

Ljuba Lemke

P.S. The ALF online seminar is now also available to osteopathic physicians and myofunctional therapists at a reduced price. Please inquire about discount coupons.

ALF Online Seminar                                     

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