August 2017 Newsletter

We’re 2/3 of The Way Through 2017!

Ronald C. Auvenshine, DDS, PhD

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

August is upon us. August is classically our hottest month of the year. Temperatures will soar in the area and there’s always the chance of a major storm or hurricane later in the month. As Houstonians, we’re used to these weather events and prepare for them well in advance. Word of caution to our TMJ and headache patients: be aware of changes in barometric pressure with the storms as they come through. The change in barometric pressure can bring about pain and discomfort in the jaw joint and jaw muscles so intense that you may not have experienced these symptoms before. Rest assured that they are within normal limits and to be expected. If you have concerns or questions, please feel free to contact our office for advice.

August is a special month for the Auvenshine family. My wedding anniversary is August 4th. This year, Linda and I will celebrate 50 years of marriage. We plan to celebrate very quietly and in our usual tradition. We are not planning a large party but we will spend time with friends and family. I want to thank my lovely wife for 50 years of love, kindness, and attention. She has literally stayed by my side through many difficult and wonderful times. She is an outstanding helpmate and I cannot imagine my life without her.

August is also a birthday month for us! Linda’s birthday is on August 10th and my son, Chris’ on August 11th. This year for Linda’s birthday, she and I will travel to West Palm Beach for a long weekend. We have never been to West Palm Beach, so we are excited about exploring new venues. It is our hope that in the next few years, we will be able to do more traveling. With Dr. Pettit as a major partner at MedCenter TMJ, I now have more freedom to enjoy things that Linda and I have postponed until now.

Later in August I will again travel to New Orleans to lecture at LSU School of Dentistry Pain Continuum. The lecture for this session will be on Radiologic Anatomy. The purpose of this course is to train doctors who wish to incorporate TMD treatment into their practice, how to read Cone Beam CT scans accurately, and to coordinate basic anatomical structures to radiological scans. As I have written before, the Pain Continuum at LSUSD is a series of five weekend lectures over a period of a year. I have the privilege of being a visiting professor in the Continuum and lecturing in three of the five sessions.

It’s really interesting that time moves so quickly that now we begin planning for the fourth quarter of 2017. This year has flown by quickly and has allowed us many opportunities for meeting and treating new patients as well as maintaining those of you who have been loyal patients for many years.

My heart and my soul are dedicated to this practice. I will continue to actively pursue learning, research, and teaching so that I can provide not only the best service to you but also to the profession of dentistry, as we grow with new participants in the field of TMD and Orofacial Pain. You are our greatest asset and we will continue to strive to provide you the very best care in this country.

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

Dr. Pettit’s Tips for Healthy Living

Nathan J. Pettit, DMD, MSD

Most of us have at least 2 or 3 pillows on our bed. Stuffed with feathers, down, or polyester, these pillows can be a source of great relief or a source of night-long discomfort. This is a complicated issue to address broadly, as personal preference, sleeping position habits, and home environment all factor into the ideal pillow selection. Let me provide a few tips in the selection of a pillow.

First of all, if you have a pillow that you love and sleep well with, change nothing! If, however, you find yourself constantly adjusting your pillow, or turning from side to side in search of a position that doesn’t hurt your neck or jaw, you may want to consider looking for a new pillow.

Perhaps you use a pillow with added cervical support, in which case it is very important to sleep on your back. If your pillow has a cervical bulge, and you end up sleeping on your side or front, the bulge can push on the lower jaw, placing a load on your joint or interfering with its alignment. You may find that placing pillows at your sides will help discourage turning to your side or stomach in your sleep.
Ideal sleep position for your jaw is typically on your back. However, some of us are incapable of sleeping on our backs. If you are a side or front sleeper, try and create a pillow scenario where most of the support is felt on the fixed part of your skull (the head, ear, or cheek bone region), and not on your movable lower jaw. You may need some light support under your jaw to keep gravity from pulling down and displacing it. There is a delicate balance which can be obtained with attention to sleep ergonomics. Sometimes some support under the shoulder or chest can alleviate pressure created on the jaw from sleeping on one’s stomach.

Sometimes a comfortable pillow cannot be found for a straight horizontal sleep position, even when on our back. Some of us will do better with a significant or slight inclination in our reclining position. You may try a recliner or a bed with an adjustable angle.

Here’s the practical side of all this. Synthetic material pillows tend to be more durable and wash better, as well as being more hypoallergenic in material. But remember that you don’t always have to replace a pillow because it is uncomfortable. Sometimes you can modify the pillow you already have. For instance, if the pillow is too firm, you can open a seam and remove some of the filler. If the pillow is too soft, you can condense the filling and pin together one end. Once you have found the ideal firmness in your pillow, sew up the modified edge and you are there!

I hope these tips are helpful in your search for a comfortable night’s rest. Sleep is pivotal to the health of your body systems and whatever you can do to increase the quality of your sleep, will only help your jaw joints.

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

What’s Hydration Got to Do With Your Joints?

August is known for its soaring temperatures and high humidity. The combination of the two can create a dehydrating situation if you aren’t careful.

When you’re dehydrated you may notice that your joints feel stiffer and more painful. It’s not your imagination. Carbohydrates called glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) help to support the cartilage in joints by maintaining collagen and elastin. GAGs form a gel-like liquid that lubricates the joints, but they depend on fluid intake to do so.

As we age, cartilage matrices breakdown, and it’s more difficult to keep joints properly hydrated. Without adequate water consumption to create a cushion, there will be more friction in your dehydrated joints. The more friction there is the harder the joints have to work, which can further degrade joints and cause pain.

Health experts recommend that adults drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day, however, if you’re sweating you’ll need to consume more to replace the water that’s lost. Water with electrolytes is the best option for staying hydrated when you’re working up a sweat. It’s also beneficial to avoid some beverages. Coffee, tea and soda can all act as a diuretic, which can increase dehydration rather than provide relief.

Focusing on Dental Health at the Start of the School Year

With so many things on the back-to-school list, the last thing you may be thinking about is dental health. However, for a number of kids a new school year comes with a certain level of anxiety. If they’re starting the year at a new school this could definitely be the case.

Kids can internalize stress just like adults. Some of the ways kids react to stress are by subconsciously:

  • Grinding their teeth
  • Clenching their jaw
  • Shifting their jaw back and forth
  • Chewing on pencils and pens

These reactions are completely involuntary and your child probably doesn’t even realize they’re doing it. While it may seem like no big deal, these behaviors can have consequences down the road for their dental health and even affect the position of their teeth as they grow. It can also set the stage for TMJ dysfunction. Studies from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) have found that children of all ages can exhibit symptoms of TMD.

If you’ve noticed your child exhibiting the signs of stress above or they’ve complained of jaw pain and fatigue, it may be time for a visit with the dentist. A professional examination can uncover any underlying dental problems caused by the stress symptoms and provide at-home solutions for handling the issue before it gets worse.

The dentist may recommend that your child wear a mouth guard at night or practice jaw exercises, but ultimately what’s most important is addressing their source of stress. For many children, once the stress is eliminated the teeth grinding and clenching stops as well.


Healthy Homemade Ice Cream

You read that right! When you make ice cream at home you can turn this summer classic into a healthier treat that helps you beat the heat. And you don’t even need special equipment.

With this recipe you can make homemade ice cream in a blender! It’s smooth, refreshing and low in sugar. The fresh fruit in this mango ice cream adds sweetness and a healthy dose of antioxidants. At just 90 calories and with only 1 gram of fat per serving you can indulge during swimsuit season.


  • ¾ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2½ c frozen mango
  • ½ cup of mixed berries


  • Combine the yogurt, vanilla extract and mango in a blender. Blend until thick.
  • Dish the ice cream into a bowl and top with the mixed berries of your choice.
  • Serveimmediately – like you can wait!
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