Dental Care


ALF Appliances for Airway Dentistry at Beyond Smiles

ALF dental appliances, short for Advanced Lightwire Functional appliances, are a unique alternative to traditional orthodontics. ALF devices slowly manipulate the orofacial structure to promote better breathing and airway function, and straighter smiles via mandible and palate expansion. ALF appliances do this by guiding bone growth and improving muscle function within and around the oral cavity.

ALF appliances treat issues like TMJ, malocclusion, and a narrow airway and anterior palate. These issues can cause breathing disorders like obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and UARS, as well as many other conditions.

It’s also important to note that orthodontic issues, poor breathing habits, and breathing disorders can stunt facial development. ALF appliances help remedy this by treating the source of the issue, whether it be tongue thrusting or bite misalignment.

What Is an ALF (Advanced Lightwire Functional) Appliance?

An ALF dental appliance is a thin, metal device that is flexible and custom fit to the patient. ALF appliances are removable and do not require surgical placement.

These appliances hook over molars on either side of the mouth when fixed in place. ALF devices are virtually invisible because they sit behind the teeth, unlike traditional braces.

How Does the ALF Appliance Work?

The ALF appliance leverages pressure and the natural force of the tongue to stimulate jawbone growth. By carefully adjusting the device at the attachment points, your dentist can gradually increase the diameter of the appliance to achieve the desired palate or mandible expansion.

How Long Does Treatment Take?

The duration of ALF treatment can vary significantly from patient to patient. Even though some patients might exhibit similar symptoms, each individual has their own unique requirements. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treatment.

Typically, patients undergo ALF treatment between the ages of 6 and 8. However, some children are ready to begin treatment even earlier. By the age of 4, a child’s facial growth is already 60% complete, and by age 12 it’s 90% complete.

Given the ALF’s relationship to structural development, starting treatment during a patient’s growth stage can yield exceptionally effective results. However, ALF appliance therapy can produce noticeable and beneficial outcomes for patients of all ages. This means it is possible to prescribe ALF appliances for adults.

Why Is Treatment Successful?

ALF appliance therapy is based on the theories of both Epigenetic Orthodontics and Cranial Osteopathy.

Epigenetic Orthodontics promotes non-surgical solutions to issues like poor bite alignment, underdeveloped upper jaw, and facial asymmetry. This field of dentistry demonstrates the theory that our genes can change how our teeth and mouth are structured. This allows for smile and facial correction without surgery. Epigenetic Orthodontics utilizes growth guidance appliances, ALF therapy, MARPE, and similar treatments to achieve natural results.

Cranial Osteopathy focuses on the principle that gently adjusting cranial structures can improve physical alignment and boost overall health. While ALF treatment doesn’t always include Cranial Osteopathy, the ALF appliance stimulates orofacial realignment by gently manipulating bones and muscles.

As a child’s face grows, their jaws are shaped by their facial muscles. Ideally, the tongue should rest naturally at the roof of the mouth, helping the upper jaw to expand. This provides ample room for all the upper teeth to align properly.

When facial muscles aren’t functioning correctly, it can result in orofacial development problems. Some of these issues include:

  • Overcrowded Teeth
  • Crooked Teeth
  • Malocclusion
  • Narrow or Restricted Airways
  • Narrow Anterior Palate or Mandible
  • Bite Misalignment
  • TMJ Disorders
  • Poor Posture
  • Sleep-Related Breathing Disorders
  • Mouth Breathing
  • Facial Asymmetry
  • Enlarged Tonsils and Adenoids
  • Headaches
  • Neck Pain
  • Allergies
  • Teeth Grinding (Bruxism) and Jaw Clenching

Traditional orthodontics can be an effective solution to these problems for many people. However, an expansion appliance like the ALF is optimal for patients with an underdeveloped facial structure and/or overcrowded teeth. This is because it can naturally increase jaw size and bone volume, creating more room for the tongue and promoting healthy oral function.

What Does ALF Therapy Treat?

Advanced Lightwire Functional appliance therapy can treat a variety of issues, including the following:

  • Poor Orofacial Development

ALF devices specifically treat poor orofacial development. When undergoing ALF therapy, patients often see improvement in their overall facial appearance. This may include remedying issues like a sunken chin and facial asymmetry.

  • Sleep-Related Breathing Disorders

Sleep disorders can be linked to a narrow or restricted airway. This can be caused by an underdeveloped upper jaw, crooked or overcrowded teeth, enlarged tonsils or adenoids, bite misalignment, and other structural issues.

  • Poor Breathing Habits

Poor breathing habits, such as open mouth breathing, snoring, improper swallowing, and tongue thrusting can develop as a result of improper facial growth. On the other hand, they can also impact facial growth if triggered by things like thumb sucking or allergies.

  • TMJ

TMJ and other TMD (Temporomandibular Disorders) can result due to poor orofacial development.

  • Orthodontic Issues

Common orthodontic issues like crooked teeth, overcrowding, malocclusion, misalignment, etc. can often be treated with ALF therapy. This is because ALF is an orthodontic appliance, though it’s not as invasive as other alternatives. ALF promotes proper expansion of the dental arches, thereby creating more space for teeth.

How Breathing Issues Impact Your Health & Smile

When poor orofacial development results in sleep-related breathing disorders or poor breathing habits, dental and general health are affected.

There is evidence to suggest people who struggle with breathing disorders and similar conditions are more likely to have cavities, bad breath, and other dental issues. Many patients, including children, are also more likely to suffer from mental health disorders, heart attack and stroke, memory issues, trouble concentrating, grogginess, headaches, etc.

Knowing this, it’s easy to see how ALF can improve these conditions. As we all know, when you treat the cause of a problem, you also eliminate the resulting symptoms.

ALF Appliance Cost

The cost of ALF therapy will vary depending on the extent of your treatment plan. In most cases, cost of treatment ranges between $8,000 and $13,000 dollars.

Contact us at Beyond Smiles of Park Ridge to schedule a consultation and receive an accurate estimate.

Visit Beyond Smiles for ALF Appliance Therapy

If you’re searching for an “ALF dentist near me” in Park Ridge, IL, look no further than Beyond Smiles. Our team is highly skilled in airway dentistry and holistic orthodontic treatment for a variety of conditions.

If you would like to schedule a consultation to learn more about ALF dental appliances, contact us today.


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