ALF (Alternative Lightwire Functional) Therapy
ALF Appliance Therapy is a non-invasive protocol used to correct bio mechanical structural problems in the cranium (skull) and mandible (lower jaw), which can cause neurological, muscular, and physiological symptoms all over the body. ALF Appliance Therapy utilizes very light, springy forces that are active 24/7, making this therapy extremely dynamic. The human body is a dynamic organism; constantly self-adjusting and self-correcting, which responds most agreeably to ALF Appliance Therapy.
ALF appliances and the paradigm that created them have revolutionized dental medicine. Many of us have suspected for years that the teeth are integral parts of the whole body and using ALF Appliance Therapy, we can treat malocclusions and temporomandibular joint dysfunctions in a comprehensive, positive, and effective manner.
Teeth and the alveolar bone in which they are contained are only one part of the complex skeletal system that influences the functioning of the neuromuscular system. The neuromuscular system produces the responsive symptomology for chronic pain (or painless) dysfunctional patients. Patients who suffer from head, neck, and temporomandibular joint dysfunction and/or pain benefit greatly from ALF Appliance Therapy. ALF Appliance Therapy can be used also to straighten teeth instead of, or in addition to, using braces and is most effective at non-surgically “lifting” the soft tissues of the face and neck.
Teeth should be positioned within bone so that their force-bearing contacts are centered over the densest part of the bone. Dentists can straighten teeth orthodontically with braces (or other heavy force appliances) and change their positions with respect to the existing bone, but this repositioning often is unstable when the orthodontia is completed because the bone itself is not treated by these conventional therapies and the teeth are often placed into positions that do not allow force-bearing contacts to be centered over the denser bone. These patients are dependent upon lifetime retainers to hold the teeth in these unstable positions. Frequently, even in spite of the most judicious use of retainers, the teeth will slowly reposition themselves back over the unchanged bone, where they had the most stability initially, although they may not have been in straight alignment in these positions.
Even when tooth mass is reduced by extraction orthodontics or by stripping (reducing/slenderizing) the tooth enamel, relapse shifting occurs because the structural problems with the bones were untreated or ignored. Patients endure years of treatment and financial obligation; yet the causative skeletal issues are not resolved. It is my opinion that the failed orthodontic treatment makes the structural and neuromuscular imbalances worse in the cranium, temporomandibular joints, and cervical spine. ALF Appliance Therapy eliminates the need to reduce tooth mass by extraction or stripping of tooth enamel.
Cosmetic dentists restore the damage to teeth caused by clenching and grinding by placing crowns and veneers, but clenching and grinding is a result of neuromuscular instability that results from cranial base problems, which need to be resolved through ALF Appliance Therapy first. Cosmetic dentistry will crack and chip eventually as the natural teeth did before them, since the craniomandibular relationship has not been corrected effectively. The cosmetic patient is given a night guard appliance to reduce the damage.
Too much gingival tissue showing in the smile is also indicative of cranial base mal-alignments and can be treated cosmetically at great expense to a patient, but the ongoing cranial issues will still produce symptoms for the patient. What’s the point of pretty teeth if you are in pain and don’t feel like showing them in a smile anyway?
Cosmetic surgery to the face and neck take up slack in tissues that wouldn’t be slacking necessarily if the bones to which they are attached were the right sizes, shapes, and in the correct positions with respect to each other. These surgical alterations to the soft tissues can fail miserably, because once the swelling has dissipated, the tissues are bound down even tighter to incompetent or mal-positioned bone structure, in fact often accentuating it. The patients receive no symptomatic relief from this type of treatment either. The effects of plastic surgery can be greatly enhanced if ALF Therapy is undertaken by the patient prior to plastic surgery.
A doctor treating a patient experiencing problems associated with the temporomandibular joints often has the patient wear a bite splint that keeps the mandible (lower jaw) from compressing the temporomandibular joints by closing too far back and up into the cranium. When the patient has existing cranial base distortions, such as the temporal bone mal-aligned on one or both sides, or the maxillae (upper jaw) are not aligned properly, the splint may make the patient better initially, but a plateau of symptom reduction occurs at some point, or the splint may make the patient’s symptoms worse, even right from the start. These patients are labeled “non-compliant” for not wearing their splints, or other appliances. Realistically, they are trying only to tell their doctors something important, like “Hey, look further because this joint issue is only the tip of an iceberg!” If it feels good to a patient, he/she will comply.
It is the opinion of this doctor that there are rarely any pure dental health issues; i.e., temporomandibular joint problems, crowded teeth, worn teeth, periodontal problems, clenching and grinding, etc. are all symptom manifestations of greater and more involved issues. If healthcare practitioners continue to treat one focused symptom and ignore the whole patient, those of us who do look at the whole patient are going to be grossly overworked because the patients know what the correct approach to their healthcare should be and they’ll find us.
ALF Appliance Therapy involves the correction of skeletal (cranial base) and cervical spine discrepancies that are the root causes of head, face, and mouth pain; temporomandibular joint disorders; un-esthetic facial issues; dental compensations (whether these are represented by crowded teeth, cracked and worn teeth, recession of soft tissue and notching (abfraction) of the enamel, etc.); and often, most of the patients’ supposedly unrelated neurophysiological systemic symptoms. Cosmetic dentistry is incorporated into ALF Therapy by this doctor as an integral part of ALF Therapy because ongoing therapeutic results and case stability relies on the teeth, as well as the bones, being their ideal sizes, shapes, and in the correct positions as needed for each individual patient. Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) therapy is also a part of ALF Therapy because the achieved correction of the alignments of the cranial bones, specifically the occipital, sphenoid, temporal, maxillae, and ethmoid bones, and the mandible restores optimum function to the temporomandibular joints in most cases. Facial aesthetics and overall body posture improve drastically, due to the effects of balancing the cranial bones with respect to each other, the mandible, and the cervical spine. The pelvis reacts to the balancing of the temporal bones. Sinus and venous drainages improve, which adds vast improvement to the quality and tone of the skin on the face, as noticed by some of my patients’ aestheticians at facial appointments subsequent to beginning ALF Therapy.
Since this doctor treats mostly head, neck, and facial pain patients, the bulk of the data presented is from the adult patient population, but ALF Therapy is appropriate at any age and I have treated patients as young as four years old who present with airway and ear problems. The younger the patient, the faster the case treats. Several young mouth-breathers have been treated with ALF Therapy by this doctor, with great success. When you can provide this therapy early to a patient of a young age, then observe the reversals of the skeletal and dental compensations to mouth-breathing that have occurred in the mid- and lower facial development, you realize the power of this therapy.
ALF Appliance Therapy is a non-invasive whole body treatment method used to correct biomechanical cranial structural problems which cause neurological, muscular, and physiological symptoms all over the body. The results in symptom reduction from cranial balancing are phenomenal and occur in a matter of days, weeks, or months for most patients. The results can speak for themselves in the following photographs and any of the patients of this doctor will speak out as to the efficacy of ALF Therapy and its effects on overall health and esthetics.
More information on ALF treatment: ALF Therapy
Don’t live in Arizona: ALF Practitioner Directory
Dr. Rebecca L. Griffiths has been utilizing the ALF Treatment modality since 1993 and is truly an expert in this method of care. At this time, Dr. Rebecca L. Griffiths is the only expert ALF practitioner in Maricopa County and surrounding areas.
Visit Dr. Griffiths’ Curriculum Vitae