Most of the practitioners that take the leap to become airway centric doctors of the mouth, do so not only for the benefit of helping heal and care for fellow humans, but are thrust into this for deeply personal reasons. My reasons are my children, my husband, and my own airway conditions.
Since I was in my early 20s, I struggled with being tired, with no explanation. As I aged, the fatigue continued, I was considered to have borderline hypothyroidism, but my mild symptoms continued. As I had children, my symptoms of fatigue continued to worsen until I was diagnosed with sleep apnea in 2015. I have been sleeping with a CPAP machine ever since. I wondered how it was that at 36 years of age I could be diagnosed with moderate sleep apnea. I was thin and fit, otherwise healthy. How could this be? And, would I need to live the next 50 plus years with a CPAP machine? The answer is simply no. There are things that can be done to reverse and in many cases actually restore a person’s breathing and sleep to optimal levels.
My journey really began in 2012, when my son and I struggled with breastfeeding. I breastfed my first child successfully for a year, and I was determined to breastfeed my son at any cost. I had the milk supply, he was gaining weight, but he was nursing at my expense. He had torticollis, plagiocephaly, and a possible tongue-tie; all of these were not diagnosed. There was no explanation given to me as to why I was in pain. Occupational therapy said he was great, lactation said the latch was great. He went on to struggle with solid foods: he ate really fast, he would store food in his cheek, he would gag on his food and spit up lots of his meals as a toddler. His growth was still awesome. He still eats very fast. He now is a mouth-breather and has fragmented sleep. I see the signs of his jaws developing less than optimally right before my eyes. And thank goodness, I can help redirect his breathing behaviors, jaw growth and ultimately the quality of his sleep and oxygenation.
In 2015, I began my infant tongue-tie assessment and treatment education. I began offering laser infant frenotomies in 2016 along with children and adults. I still needed to know more. I needed to know how a tongue-tie could lead a human down a path of crowded teeth or sleep apnea. So, in 2017, my most recent airway-centered practice journey began and has opened my eyes to the many underlying causes of crowded teeth, sleep apnea, and more. I look at faces, teeth, jaws, tongues, facial muscles, posture, ankles, breathing, and sleep (along with teeth of course) in ways that I never was trained to look at. I was trained to look at teeth, at bone, at gums, and at the soft tissues of the head and neck. I was not taught that the environment played such a HUGE role in development of the head and neck, much more so than genetics. The environment that shapes our development begins in the womb and continues through childhood. It is possible to optimize gestation as it is to optimize breast-feeding, jaw growth, breathing, airway growth, sleep , and overall health. I cannot imagine a more poignant role to play in shaping, growing and healing humans who are struggling to breathe, sleep, grow, and function optimally.
I am on a mission to heal myself, to heal my husband (who also has sleep apnea), and most importantly to never allow my children to go down the same path. All 3 of them are all mouth-breathers and they all three of them suffer from fragmented sleep. They are on the path to developing sleep apnea until now.
Through mine and my family's journey, I am also on a mission to learn as much as I can so I can heal you and your family as well!
If you or your loved one experiences any of the above symptoms, contact Dr. Kimberly Santiago today and schedule an appointment.Schedule Appointment
Dr. Kimberly Santiago is dedicated to helping you and your family achieve optimal health. She spends well over 200+ hours in continual and specialized education.
She was one of the first Dentists in Issaquah and throughout Washington to learn about the relationship between breathing, sleeping and thriving.