April 2017 Newsletter

Another Busy Month at MedCenter

Ronald C. Auvenshine, DDS, PhD

Dr. Ronald Auvenshine
Dr. Ronald Auvenshine
Dr. Pettit
Dr. Nathan Pettit

Last month Dr. Pettit and I attended the annual meeting of the Mahan Study Group in New Orleans. This is an elite group of doctors throughout the country who have been trained or attended lectures given by Dr. Parker Mahan. As many of you know, Dr. Mahan was my mentor and professor. He is the reason I am in the field of TMD and Orofacial pain.

Eight years ago, we reestablished the Annual Mahan Study Group meeting. Each year we bring in special speakers, who are experts in their fields, to bring us up-to-date on the latest and greatest research and issues in TMD and Orofacial pain. The list of speakers we have engaged over the past years reads like a Who’s Who in the field of Orofacial pain. This past meeting in March was presented by two doctors. One is a chiropractor who practices here in the Houston area, and the other is an osteopathic physician/PhD from Boca Raton, Florida. Both of these men are brilliant. They know the literature backwards and forwards. It was a real joy to hear their presentations.

The subject matter of the meeting this year was health and nutrition and the effects of pharmacology in chronic situations. Much of the discussion dealt with the mind, body, soul connection, which is called “psychoneuroimmunology” (PNI). PNI is the field of medicine which deals with the way that stress affects the immune system and leads to disease. I was the first person to introduce PNI to the field of dentistry with a chapter I wrote in Dental Clinics of North America in 1997. I wrote a follow-up article in 2007. If you remember from Booklet I, I write about the subject of PNI. I am extremely interested in this field of medicine since it bridges the gap between medicine and dentistry and affects so many of my patients.

Dr. Pettit and I learned a lot of new information that we will be incorporating into our delivery of care to you, our patient. We will be more than happy to visit with you about PNI and what we have learned from this seminar and our continued reading of the literature. All you have to do is ask.

This month will be another busy month for me. I will travel to St. Louis, Missouri to give a lecture on April 12th at the Washington University medical center. One of my former residents at the VA hospital is now on staff in St. Louis and has invited me to come and give this meritorious lecture at the medical center. I will also be completing the last two, two-hour lectures in my graduate course at the University Of Texas School Of Dentistry here in Houston.

April is always a special month for me because it includes the celebration of Easter. As a Christian, Easter is a very important a day for me. It is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which I consider to be the most pivotal event in human history. The office will be closed for the four-day weekend in celebration of this magnificent holiday. I hope that you will join me and others in this celebration.

As you can see we are constantly searching for the most current and up-to-date evidence-based treatment modalities for our patients. Dr. Pettit and I are totally dedicated to this effort because we feel that our patients deserve the very best that we have to offer. It is with this commitment that we get up every day and come to the practice. My greatest joy is to help people become free from pain and subsequently lead a healthy and fruitful life. You are our greatest asset and we will continue to work diligently to make sure that your experience here at med center TMJ is the very best.

Ronald C. Auvenshine, DDS, PhD
Diplomate, American Board of Orofacial Pain

Inflammatory Foods And Your TMJ – Dr. Pettit’s Tip for Healthy Living

Nathan J. Pettit, DMD, MSD

FruitThis month I want to focus your attention to food choices that affect your body’s response to injury and infection. Inflammation is a common ailment to many people suffering from temporomandibular disorders. Inflammation has its place in the homeostasis of human health, but it can become a difficult burden if not well controlled. Chronic inflammatory conditions can lead to discomfort, deformation, and delayed healing. Levels of inflammation may fluctuate from time to time. There are certain foods which tend to upregulate inflammatory reactions, and other foods which tend to limit levels of inflammation. When we are in an active inflammatory state, it may benefit us to modify our diet towards those foods which can limit inflammation, and to avoid those foods which tend to stimulate inflammation.

Common foods that tend to increase inflammatory reactions include: fried foods, white flour, margarine, and foods that are high in sugar (particularly high fructose corn syrup). Even some healthy foods can encourage inflammation, including fruits of nightshade plants such as potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, tomatillos, eggplant, and chili peppers. These fruits have many nutritional benefits, but during an acute flare up of inflammation, choosing alternative vegetables may be beneficial. Foods which tend to lower inflammation include apples, berries, cauliflower, ginger, curry, cinnamon, fatty fish, olive oil, and whole grains. In addition, vitamin C and vitamin D are helpful in reducing inflammation. High quality vitamin supplements and time in the sun can help boost these vitamin levels.

Every time we put something in our mouth to eat, we are making a decision. We decide that whatever food we have chosen to eat is acceptable for our bodies. We frequently go for what is convenient, fast, or easy. I suggest we make a conscientious effort to choose foods of high quality and natural sourcing to support our bodies adaptive and protective ability. TMJ problems are best managed

Nathan J. Pettit, DMD, MSD
Diplomate, American Board of Prosthodontics

Use These Jaw Relaxation Techniques During Stress Awareness Month


Zen Rock StackApril is Stress Awareness Month, but for people with TMJ stress awareness happens on a daily basis. Stress is one of the key causes of TMJ discomfort. When your stress levels are elevated, muscles are more likely to tense up and bruxism can become an issue.

Over the next month banish stress with these jaw relaxation techniques:

Progressive Muscle Relaxation: This technique is commonly used to ease muscle tension. The progressive muscle relaxation technique involves clenching a muscle for a second or two then slowly releasing. Focus on one muscle group at a time or just work the jaw muscles.

Massage: A few months ago in our February newsletter we shared massage techniques that could be used to ease soreness. These same massages can be used to relax the jaw muscles as well. A basic but effective massage technique is to place the first two fingers on the bottom of the jaw muscle and then work your way up the muscle using circular motions.

Heat Therapy: Moist heat is another way to ease muscle tension. You’ll need a specialized heating pad like the Bed Buddy Hot & Cold Pack or heating pad that can be used with a damp sponge or cloth. Gently press the heat pad to your jaw muscles for a few minutes each night after showering.

Breathing Exercises: Deep breathing can also be an effective way to ease painful tension in the jaw muscles. Inhale with your nose for five seconds, then slowly exhale through your mouth for 10 seconds.

Tips for a Pain-Free BBQ

BBQ ribs grilled meat smoke fog barbecueThis month the Houston Barbecue Festival is set to take over NRG Park. It’s an unofficial kickoff to the long grilling season here in Texas. Pretty soon the aromas of grilled food will fill the air, making stomachs grumble in anticipation. For people with TMJ the smell can also trigger painful memories.

Many of the most common BBQ foods are difficult and sometimes downright painful to eat if you have TMD. The good news is you don’t have to turn down those BBQ invites. Use the tips below to make your next BBQ TMJ-friendly:

  • Cut meat into very small pieces. The smaller the better.
  • Avoid beef that’s well done or rare. Well-done meat can be too tough and rare can be a bit too chewy. Medium rare to medium is a good middle ground.
  • Opt for moist marinade chicken from the grill over drier roasted or smoked chicken.
  • Shell your grilled corn on the cob instead of biting into it.
  • Opt for chopped beef and chopped pork when possible.
  • Bring a side – that way you know there’s at least one thing you can snack on during the BBQ.
  • Baked beans provide a soft source of protein and fiber – both of which will keep you feeling full.
  • Cook meats slowly so they’re as tender as possible.
  • Avoid the grizzle and fat, which are tough and chewy.

Don’t forget to stay hydrated by drinking water with your BBQ!


Easter Egg Salad Recipe


Eggs are a big part of the Easter tradition, which means you’ll probably have leftovers after the celebration. It’s the perfect opportunity to make a nutritious meal that’s easy on the jaw.

This colorful Easter egg salad includes a few extra healthy ingredients. If you want to add more flavor, spice things up with a little curry powder.



  • After removing the shells, mash the eggs together in a bowl.
  • Add two tablespoons of mayonnaise, as well as the salt and pepper. If you’re adding the curry powder, include it with the salt and pepper here.
  • Mix thoroughly. Add more mayo as needed.
  • Add the chopped onions, capers and frozen peas.
  • Mix well and refrigerate until it’s time to serve.

The Easter egg salad can be put into a sandwich or served on bite-size pieces of soft bread. The recipe above makes 4-6 servings depending on the number of eggs that are left over after the hunt.

Happy Easter!

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