December 2015 Newsletter

My Favorite Month

Ronald C. Auvenshine, DDS, PhD

Dr. Ronald Auvenshine
Dr. Ronald Auvenshine


Dr. Nathan Pettit

December is my favorite month of the year, mainly because it is the celebration month for the birth of Christ as well as all of the special events surrounding the Christmas Holidays. As we approach the end of 2015, let me thank you again for your support and patronage of the practice and the success that we have had this year. 2015 was a difficult year for all of us, particularly here in Houston. We have seen a dramatic downturn in the economy with numerous people dealing with job loss and pay cuts. However, keeping our eyes on “the goal” is what Houstonians are historically known for. We are a resilient population. We are truly multicultural and we draw strength from one another particularly in these difficult times.

The Christmas celebration is a very important time for me. Many of my most favorite memories are associated with Christmas. I can remember as a child how excited we would get on Christmas Eve. It was almost impossible to go to sleep because we knew that Santa Claus would be visiting our house and would leave that “perfect gift” under the tree. Now that I am older, I fondly remember my family traditions, with my mother and sisters baking in the kitchen and preparing a special meal for Christmas Day. All of these things have a warm spot in my heart. I cherish the memories of Christmas past but look forward to the future.

As we look forward to the new year, Dr. Pettit and I will continue to be busy promoting TMD in the dental community. On the 15th and 16th of January, I will travel to New Orleans to visit with Dr. Henry Gremillion.  Dr. Gremillion is the Dean of LSU School of Dentistry and one of my former students. Dr. Gremillion and I have remained very close friends through the years . We will meet to discuss a more active role for me in the teaching curriculum at LSU. As you know, I received my PhD in Human Anatomy from LSU Medical School. For five years, I taught in both the medical and dental schools before moving to Houston in 1978. Dr. Gremillion also studied under my mentor, Dr. Parker Mahan, at the University of Florida. Since Dr. Mahan’s death, Dr. Gremillion has wanted to establish an Orofacial Pain residency program at LSU School of Dentistry. We have talked about this project for several years. However, I just have not had the time to devote to the development of the program. Now that Dr. Pettit has joined our practice, this gives me more latitude for doing special things. I will be giving you more information regarding this project as time goes on. Do not worry, I am not moving from Houston nor do I plan to go full-time on the LSU faculty. I am, however, looking forward to reducing my hours in the practice and having someone responsible, like Dr. Pettit, fill the vacancy when I’m away. I do plan to remain actively involved in the practice for years to come.

Dr. Pettit and I will be continuing to work on a new textbook project. I will be writing a chapter on human embryology in a textbook to be published, hopefully, in 2017. Dr. Pettit and I finished 14 chapters in a dental radiology textbook in December. Hopefully that will be published sometime in 2016. There are other articles that we plan to write; therefore, we plan to be very busy doing a lot of library work.

As you can see we continue to be actively involved in pursuing continuing education for myself, Dr. Pettit, and the staff. It is our goal here at MedCenter TMJ to provide you with the very best care possible. We do feel that we have superior technology and our goal is to continue to lead the dental community in TMD and Orofacial Pain. You are our most valuable asset and we will continue to work diligently to maintain your trust and support.

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

Dr. Pettit’s Tips for Healthy Living

Nathan J. Pettit, DMD, MSD

Another year has passed! Christmas is here. What a wonderful time of year to be in Houston. I love the cool weather, the lights, the decorations, and the music. I feel the Christmas spirit and it warms my heart. It is a time of giving and a time of gratitude. For the health tip this month, I want to encourage us all to take some time to be grateful.

Why should I be grateful? Believe it or not, scientists have investigated the health benefits of being grateful for quite some time. Some of these benefits are the natural result of having a positive attitude. Those who are grateful tend to have better protective health behaviors, such as regular exercise, doctors visits, and a healthy diet. But the attitude of gratitude will also decrease your level of stress.

Cultivating feelings of thankfulness can tremendously improve how you cope with your problems and the stresses of life. Optimism comes with gratitude. Research has shown optimism can actually improve your immune system. Immune cells and healing time improve for those with a positive and grateful attitude. It would be wise for each of us to find time each day to be grateful. We can all find something to be grateful for.

I am grateful for my position at MedCenter TMJ, and to work alongside Dr. Auvenshine. He is a man who truly cares for his patients. We are all so blessed to have his influence in our lives. It is his persistence and hard work that has made MedCenter TMJ possible. So many lives have benefited from his thoughtful care and ingenuity. His treatment philosophy is unique and effective. To have come under his wing has been one of the greatest blessings of my life.

In the spirit of the season, I also wish to share my deepest gratitude. I will forever be grateful for the gift we all received two millennia ago, with the condescension of God in our Savior Jesus Christ. His teachings and atonement have great impact on my life and on my family. His path is the way that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son.

Nathan J. Pettit, DMD, MSD

Get More by Giving Back

As we shop for special gifts to surprise our loved ones on Christmas Day, it brings a somber thought to the forefront of our minds. For many people, the holiday celebrations are few and far between.

In the U.S. 14.8% of people live below the poverty level. Millions of Americans rely on the kindness of philanthropic organizations, neighbors and perfect strangers to enjoy a warm meal on Christmas. It’s a humble reminder of what the holiday is truly about – the gift of giving.

It’s a gift that we not only give to others, but also to ourselves. Volunteering fills the heart with something far more valuable than anything you’ll find in a store. Offering a helping hand to the less fortunate reminds us of the goodness that exists in this world. It reminds us that there is hope and people are always willing to help one another rise up from a dire situation.

In Houston (and around the country) shelters, soup kitchens and charitable organizations are in need of volunteers now more than ever. If you live in the Houston area, please consider giving your time to the Star of Hope kitchen or the Salvation Army. Both organizations are always looking for volunteers, especially during the holidays when they are hosting special events for those in need.

You can make the holiday special for friends and family with gifts, but you can also make it memorable for your fellow man by giving your time and love to the less fortunate.

Get More by Giving Back

Easy Ways to Lower Stress During the Holiday Season

Easy Ways to Lower Stress During the Holiday SeasonAn unfortunate side effect of juggling a busy holiday schedule and added expenses is stress. We have discussed the connection between stress and TMD symptoms before, and there’s no worse time to deal with a flare up than the holidays. As Dr. Pettit mentioned, taking a moment each day to show gratitude can help to lower stress. If you’re beginning to feel the pressure building, you can also try a few of these easy stress relievers:

  • Take deep breaths during a walk – Inhale for four paces and exhale for four more
  • Talk to a good listener – Getting things off your chest is an instant stress reducer
  • Read a fun article – Reading is well documented as a quick stress reliever no matter what type of reading material you enjoy
  • Do a mental rundown of your body – Sit in a comfortable position with your eyes closed and focus on each part of your body, paying close attention to how each one feels in the moment
  • Sit by a fountain – Tapping into your senses is a mood lifter, and listening to nature sounds is a proven way to lower stress levels

Time constraints are one of the biggest stressors during the holiday season, but these five techniques will calm your nerves in just a few minutes!

Getting the Word Out

Many people suffer with symptoms similar to yours. They have searched for answers but don’t know where to go. Help us get the word out by writing a Google review for MedCenter TMJ. With your help, we can get the word out to those who need it.


Get the Party Started With This Cranberry Brie Puff Pastry Recipe

Of course, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share a delectable holiday dish that’s easy for TMD patients to eat! The holidays are full of festive parties, but all too often the hor d’oeuvres are crunchy, sticky or chewy. Whipping up a special TMJ-friendly treat for the spread is a surefire way to make certain there’s something for everyone.

This Cranberry Brie Puff Pastry recipe is a savory and sweet way to indulge in the holiday season’s most popular fruit.

cherry StrudelINGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup ripe cranberries
  • 4 ounces brie cheese
  • 2 10”x10” puff pastry sheets
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons of orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon of kosher salt


  • First create the cranberry spread by combining the cranberries, orange juice, honey, cinnamon, water and salt in a saucepan. Heat over medium temperature until simmering. Continue to simmer for 10 minutes or until the cranberries are softened and the mixture thickens. Remove from heat.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Lay out the pastry puff sheets (thawed) and gently flatten them with a rolling pin. Using a 1 ½” mini biscuit cutter, cut the pastry into circles. Each sheet should yield about 48 pieces. Divide the pieces so that half are used for the bottom and the other half for the top of the pastries.
  • Beat the egg in a bowl then lightly brush each top pastry puff piece with the egg wash.
  • Cut the brie into small cubes with the rind intact.
  • Put a dollop of the cranberry spread and a piece of cheese on each of the bottom pastry pieces.
  • Place the top pastry pieces with the egg side down over the spread and cheese fillings.
  • Use a fork to gently crimp the edges of each pastry, and prick the top of each one so that air can escape.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper before placing the pastries. Brush the top of each pastry with egg.
  • Place the baking sheet in the top third of the oven, and bake for 12-15 minutes.

Once the pastries are golden brown take them out of the oven to cool. These scrumptious cranberry brie bites can be served warm or at room temperature.


Scroll to Top