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  • Writer's pictureCAFF Team

EPISODE 60 OF AIRWAY FIRST - March Madness edition

In honor of Oral Health Month and March Madness, CAFF will be releasing one new episode a day until the end of the month. Welcome to episode 59 of the Airway First podcast! You can catch this and all other episodes on Apple, SoundCloud, Podbean, RSS, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. And don't forget to check us out on YouTube!

Airway First podcast, down syndrome and airway

My guests today are Jackie Becerra-Lising, Amanda Gurrola, and Dr. Vanessa Peterson.

Jackie, is a dental hygiene graduate from Loma Linda University and has been practicing as a clinical dental hygienist for the past 19 years.  Since having her second child with Down Syndrome and having limited resources, she decided to specialize her education in the field of myofunctional therapy and received her certificate of completion from the MyoMentor program in 2021.  She is now owner and OMT of Upside Down Frown Care, LLC.  Her love for knowledge in airway includes having taken courses targeting the Down Syndrome population through Talk Tools.  She also has obtained a Level 1 Oral Habits Program certificate through the Breathe Institute and currently enrolled to take the TMJ Massage therapies course to get a better understanding of the complex TMJ.  She is practicing myofunctional therapy throughout various cities in the Inland Empire located in Southern California. She is married and the mother of two children, a 12 year old son and 7 year old daughter with Down Syndrome. 

Amanda's passion to work with children and provide for her community led her to the field of Speech Language Pathology. She holds experience in the hospital, public school, and private clinic settings where she has treated a variety of clients and disorders: language disorders, articulation & phonology, fluency disorders, Down Syndrome, ASD, voice disorders, acquired neurological disorders, tracheostomized clients, and AAC. As a former athlete, Amanda was drawn to Justine Sherman and Associates' strong team-based community and close family collaboration. Her current professional focuses include early intervention, articulation and phonology, and fluency. She is interested in learning more about orofacial myology.

Dr. Vanessa Peterson was born and raised right here in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. Growing up, she attended local schools: Alta Loma Christian School, Deer Canyon Elementary, Vineyard Junior High, Etiwanda High School, and Los Osos High School. She went on to study Biology and Chemistry at Baylor University in Waco, TX where she also joined the Cross Country, Track, Rowing, and Triathlon teams. She returned to Southern California to attend dental school locally at Loma Linda University School of Dentistry. Then she headed north to Portland, Oregon for her orthodontic residency at Oregon Health & Science University. She loved Portland, Oregon and decided to stay for awhile. She practiced at Kaiser Permanente for 3 years, and became the chief orthodontic specialist before following her dream to start her own orthodontic practice in Lake Oswego, Oregon. In 2018, her mother was in a terrible cycling accident, and so Dr. Peterson sold her dream practice to relocate back to Rancho Cucamonga, CA. Dr. Peterson practiced orthodontics locally in the Inland Empire before once again pursuing her dream to own her own practice. Synergi Orthodontic Specialists opened in July 2020.

"The body needs to be stable in order to the mouth to be stable." ~ Amanda Gurrola

Show Notes:


According to the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS), Down syndrome is a genetic disorder caused when abnormal cell division results in extra genetic material from chromosome 21.

Down syndrome causes a distinct facial appearance, intellectual disability, developmental delays, and may be associated with thyroid or heart disease.

Medical specialists will conduct additional screenings. Early intervention programs with a team of therapists and special educators who can treat each child's specific situation are helpful in managing Down syndrome.


Children with Down syndrome have midface hypoplasia, macroglossia, a narrow nasopharynx, and a shortened palate. These anatomical abnormalities along with generalized hypotonia, an immature immune system, and a tendency to obesity predispose children with Down syndrome to upper airway obstruction.

Hypotonia means decreased muscle tone. It can be a condition on its own, called benign congenital hypotonia, or it can be indicative of another problem where there is progressive loss of muscle tone, such as muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy.

Children with Down Syndrome may experience upper airway collapsibility during periods of muscle hypotonia. You can read more about the hypotonic upper airway in OSA in this article on the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.


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