January Newsletter

Have a Wonderful New Year!

By Dr. Ronald Auvenshine

Dr. Ronald Auvenshine
Dr. Ronald Auvenshine

2014 is here! It’s always exciting to begin a New Year. All of us here at MedCenter TMJ are celebrating new beginnings. There are many things on the horizon which are amazing challenges. As far as the practice is concerned, we launched a new website in November. I have contracted a website management company in Austin to refurbish and bring my website up-to-date. They have done this successfully and, as a result, I am reaching a wider audience. We are now tied in with social networking such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. This is the new way of doing business and of getting our message out “globally.” It is my hope that in this New Year I will be able to expand the website into a learning center for both patients who suffer from TMD and chronic pain, as well as doctors who are seeking more information regarding diagnosis and referral. We invite you to visit our website and make a comment. We also invite you to join us on Facebook and Twitter. Reviews on Google are appreciated.

In 2014, it is my goal to launch an online learning center entitled “Dialogix.” This is a concept of teaching created by me and a close friend and colleague, Dr. Paul Mitsch. We created the concept five years ago. It is our desire to have online webinars and chat rooms for questions and answers to train doctors to incorporate TMD into their practice.

In today’s world, it is difficult for professionals to leave their busy practices and travel for continuing education courses. Dialogix will serve the purpose of online learning that can accommodate everyone’s busy schedules. Topics will include anatomy and physiology of the head and neck with emphasis on the temporomandibular joint, along with biomechanics of jaw function. The curriculum will also include differential diagnosis of headaches, facial pain and the relationship between acute and chronic pain. In 2014, I plan to continue my current research on the hyoid bone. The hyoid bone is a small, freely-floating bone in the throat which maintains the patency of the airway through the pharynx. My interest in the hyoid bone dates back five years to when I became interested in the CT scan and our ability to do standardized measurements of head and neck anatomy before and after treatment. Currently, one of my residents at the VA hospital successfully defended her Master’s thesis in June of 2013. Her research was the first project of its kind. I currently have a third-year resident at the VA working on his Master’s degree on another aspect of the hyoid bone. His project looks at the three-dimensional changes before and after treatment in patients who suffer from myofascial pain disorder.

The impact of this research will be huge because it will involve not only dentistry, but also sleep medicine and the importance of maintaining a patent airway during sleep. This is the first time in dental literature that researchers have looked at muscles other than those connected directly to the jaw. We are looking at muscles of the throat and analyzing the effect of stabilization of the mandible (lower jaw) and the integrity of muscle function of the neck.

I have been asked by the Greater Houston Dental Society to help with the writing of the 2014 strategic plan for the Dental Society. I was the author of the strategic plan in 2004. It is exciting for me to become involved again in the strategic planning process. I think strategic plans are extremely important for any organization. It was quite an honor to be asked to return and help with the writing of the new plan, which should be completed by March or April of 2014.

As you can see we are extremely busy doing many things here at MedCenter TMJ, but the number one purpose for our existence is to help patients who suffer from chronic, debilitating headaches, facial pain and jaw dysfunction. It is truly an honor for us to receive referrals from doctors as well as patients. This is my passion. I love what I do and it is my desire to continue to work diligently on your behalf for as long as I have the strength to do so.

I wish each of you a Happy New Year – one that is prosperous and filled with good health.

Ronald C. Auvenshine DDS, PhD

A Refresher on Hot and Cold Therapy

In the coldness of the month, it’s tempting to come inside from the snow and apply heat therapy to aching muscles. For sufferers of TMD and CMD, it’s more complicated than that. Here’s a reminder about which therapy is most effective.

Heat therapy should be used to combat general feelings of soreness. You may elect to use a regular heating pad, but heat therapy is even more effective with applied moistly to the skin. Visit your local pharmacy to purchase one. Otherwise, you can use a heating pad with a damp sponge or cloth.

Optimal Timing

You can apply moist heat therapy anytime, but maximal relief is often achieved after first taking a hot bath or shower. That jump-starts the process of relaxing the muscles in your neck and jaw. So keep up the momentum and follow up with moist heat.

Where to Apply Moist Heat

  • Under the chin and on both sides of the face
  • On the neck and shoulders
  • On the back of the head, wrapped toward the front
  • On the forehead, wrapped down the back of your head


Cold Therapy in Cold Weather?

It’s January! It sounds odd, but if you experience intense or extreme TMJ pain, ice therapy is the recommended treatment. But you don’t have to turn your fingertips blue. Here are some suggestions to maximize cold therapy without numbing your hands:

Fill a Styrofoam cup with water and freeze it. Remove the cup from the freezer and apply to the area where you are experiencing pain and discomfort. The Styrofoam acts like an insulator, preventing your hands from getting cold.


A New Year’s Resolution You Can Keep: Feel Better and Shape Up with Routine TMJ Exercises
It’s time for New Year’s resolutions. And there’s no escaping it – January 1st is when we all pledge to exercise more! But here’s the good news: you don’t need to lug yourself to the gym and huff and puff on a stationary bicycle.

TMJ exercises are easy to perform and can be done at home, at work or even in the car. They only take a few minutes each day. This year, make a commitment that will bring positive benefits and is easy to keep.

Start with the neck
Cross your hands across your chest. Your left hand should be placed near your right shoulder, and your right hand should be placed near your left shoulder. Now gently rotate your neck backwards and to the right. Hold this position for about ten seconds. Now switch sides. Gently roll your neck to the left. Hold this position for about ten seconds.

The neck muscles, part II
Next, stretch your neck muscles by gently moving your head up and down. It will appear as if you are nodding in slow motion. Do this movement for ten seconds and then stop.

Passive stretching
Passive stretching is essential to improve range of motion. Slowly open your mouth as wide as you can. Hold your mouth open for three seconds. Now slowly close your mouth. Perform this opening and closing three times in a row. Now stop. Repeat this an hour later so that this exercise is done six to eight times a day.

Buy an app
There are a lot of products now available to help you track your exercise routine. Check the Internet to see what’s available, and buy an easy-to-use program to help monitor and record your progress.


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