The ALF Approach

The goal of health should be about eliminating obstacles and providing the environment for healing

Foundation of ALF Therapy

The ALF appliance, designed magnificently by Dr. Darick Nordstrom with osteopathic guiding principles, works with the body to facilitate motion, leading to growth, healing, and ease.

According to Dr. Nordstrom, “the foundation of ALF therapy is built on the principles of nature:

  • The creation of familiar sensations and gentle, repetitive, and rhythmic forces create harmony between light forces and human physiology.
  • Dental expansion and neurologic benefits are the results of working with Mother Nature at our side.”

    Source: ALF InterFACE Academy. ALF therapy: Why compromise when ALF therapy can optimize? Accessed February 12, 2023.

    The ALF works in concert with, not against, the body. The thin flexible wire, although sometimes considered by others to not be strong enough, is actually the perfect complement to the body. It doesn’t overwhelm with a strong force, and instead, uses continuous, light, gentle input that encourages motion in the skull to naturally stimulate jaw growth, develop adequate airway space, and provides cranial motion.

    Understanding the ALF approach

    What makes the ALF work?

    To encourage growth, appliances should mimic the forces we find in normal growth and development. The ALF is made of a special metal that generates gentle constant forces and transmits that force through the teeth to the underlying bone. The ALF encourages the tongue to sit on the roof of the mouth to stimulate upper jaw development while promoting lip seal and nasal breathing.

    Because the ALF is lightweight, resonant, and flexible, it allows communication without distraction. The body only has to pay attention to the ALF and not be confused by thick and bulky plastics or heavy wires.

    How is it different?

    Often orthodontic expanders are bulky and stiff, and do not allow motion or vibration. They have forces that are not easily tolerated by the body. They often cover the roof of the mouth, preventing the tongue from resting on the palate.

    In contrast, the ALF is a delicate wire that rests behind the teeth along the gumline, providing input, without interference. Its small size allows the tongue freedom and space to rest on the roof of the mouth with ease. If the tongue can’t reach the palate (perhaps due to a tongue tie, tight fascia, or a weak tongue), the ALF neurologically mimics the tongue.

    Why is the tongue on the roof of the mouth so important?

    The presence of the tongue on the palate leads to:

    • Expansion – the ALF orthopedically widens the upper jaw and creates more space for the eruption of the permanent teeth. The equal forces of the tongue, in concert with the ALF, create development of the roof of the mouth, floor of the nose, and the airway.
    • Cranial motion – this is an osteopathic term that refers to the gentle movement of the bones of the skull. With cranial motion, we see movement of cerebrospinal fluid, toxin removal from the brain, pumping the pituitary gland, and draining of the Eustachian tubes.
    • Neurointegration – we all have natural reflexes that appear and integrate. Sometimes with trauma, injury, or difficult birth, we may find a reflex has not integrated. The swallowing reflex is frequently not fully integrated, and the ALF provides neurological input to aid an appropriately integrated swallow.

    Energy and the ALF

    Our energy has to go to life-sustaining activities, things like breathing and sleep. If there is extra energy, it will go to repair injury, and only after that, will enough energy be available for growth and development.

    Many of us have experienced challenges to our systems that drain energy, leaving very little left for repair and growth. Doesn’t it make sense to utilize an appliance like the ALF that works with nature, not against it? Instead of fighting against the body, the ALF supports and encourages the body to heal and grow.


    Our practice believes the ALF approach should assess the whole person, not just their teeth. It is not uncommon for us to recommend additional providers as we work to heal our patients. We commonly collaborate with osteopathic physicians, ENTs, sleep physicians, chiropractors, acupuncturists, lactation consultants, and speech, physical, occupational, and feeding therapists.

    What to expect with the ALF approach

    • ALF – Once inserted, the gentle wire is adjusted at our office each month.
    • Myofunctional therapy – Teaching optimal breathing and swallowing is a key element, consisting of in-office or virtual visits.
    • Osteopathic care – Referral to an osteopath who understands the ALF appliance and works to correct structural imbalances and relieve fascial tension.

    Dr. Adams’ Craniofacial Growth Guidance Education

    • ALF Educational Institute, Dr. Jim Bronson - Levels 1, 2, 3+
    • ALF InterFACE, Dr. Darick Nordstrom
    • Consulting dentist for The ALF Approach Mentorship Program
    • Buteyko Professionals International Dental Advisory Board
    • Restoring Breathing Cranial Nerve Integration, 18-month mini residency, Lois Laynee
    • Pediatrics Airway Orthodontics Mini-Residency, Dr. German Ramirez
    • Light of Profound Healing: Multidimensional Trauma Release and Resolution, Dr. Darick Nordstrom
    • OraLase and BabyLase training, Dr. Darick Nordstrom
    • Non-surgical sleep and airway improvement, NightLase C3, Dr. Harvey Shiffman
    • Whole Body Connection conference, Dr. German Ramirez, Dr. Mariano Rocabado, Dr. Lois Laynee
    • Myofunctional Orthodontics, Myofunctional Research
    • Academic presentation: Pediatric Tongue and Lip Ties and Laser Frenectomies, Greater NY Dental Meeting
    • Academic presentation: Guest lecturer, ALF Educational Institute

    Happy Stories, Beautiful Smiles

    “I spoke with Dr. Adams regarding my son’s facial asymmetry and I was impressed by the depth of her knowledge and expertise. Dr. Adams has a holistic understanding of dental health. She listened to my concerns attentively and patiently and provided me with a thorough explanation and compassionate advice.”

    — Maria C.

    “The best dental experience my kids ever had. Dr. Adams and the staff are really patient, kind, and masters of what they are doing. In my kids’ case, it is palate expansion, airway improvement, and myofunctional therapy.”

    — Lyubov B.

    “My daughter (7) has started going for ALF. Yesterday she needed impressions, which she hates. Dr. Adams and Lynn did everything they possibly could to help her get through it. From providing sensory toys and incentives, and giving her ideas to help her take her mind off of it. It was amazing.”

    — Lauren L.

    What to expect during your visit

    • On-Time and Unrushed Attention
    • Compassionate, Comfortable Environment
    • Comprehensive Exam & Diagnosis
    • Customized Treatment Plan


    We want you to feel confident in your decision to undergo ALF appliance therapy. Our team is here to make sure you’re equipped to make an informed decision. Please reach out with any questions about the ALF approach. Or explore our dentists’ curated library of recommended dental products and resources.

    Investing in your health and happiness

    Adams Dental is a fee-for-service practice, so it’s no problem if you don’t have insurance. Our out-of-network policy allows us to provide you with personalized care that’s never dictated by insurance.

    For those with insurance, our team is happy to complete and submit dental and medical insurance claims on your behalf. Payment options also include CareCredit financing and treatment schedules to fit your budget.

    Questions? Call us at (973) 377-6500.

    Our Office

    Find our office at the corner of Madison Avenue and Kings Road, next to Rose Hall.

    One Kings Road
    Madison, NJ 07940

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    Monday: 8am–6pm
    Tuesday: 7:30am–4:30pm
    Wednesday: 7:30am–4:30pm
    Thursday: 7:30am–4:30pm
    Friday: 7:30am–2pm
    Saturday: 7:30am–1:30pm

    A Practice Rooted in Compassion, Connection and Integrity

    Book your appointment online or call us at (973) 377-6500. We look forward to getting to know you.

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    We don’t believe in “one-size-fits-all” dentistry. Our Madison dentists look beyond your teeth and consider your entire well-being. This custom-tailored approach is rooted in open communication and collaboration to find the right solution to fit your health, lifestyle, and goals.