July 2017 Newsletter

Summer Fun in July

Ronald C. Auvenshine, DDS, PhD

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

July is always an exciting month! It is a month that includes July 4th, the day that our country celebrates Independence Day. I love Fourth of July celebrations. I have memories of wonderful firework displays as well as patriotic gatherings. Some of you may have attended the Fourth of July celebration of the Boston Pops in Boston, MA. This is something that I have always wanted to do and maybe one of these days I will have an opportunity to do it. I am a patriotic person. I was raised by parents who felt very strongly about the importance of God, country, and family. Those values run deep in my blood and are part of my DNA. It is my hope that the hard times that we are going through now will bring about a renewed sense of unity in our country and that the division that seems to be broadening will, for the survival of our country, be resolved. This is my prayer and I will defend our freedoms as the most exceptional country in the world as long as I breathe.

July is a month that is filled with much preparation and anticipation. Even though it will be a month of high temperatures in our area, it will be cool and calm inside Suite 210. Toward the end of the month, I will be returning to New Orleans to give a lecture in the Orofacial Pain Continuum. This lecture will be discussing practice management principles for doctors who wish to begin to limit their practice to the field of Orofacial Pain. Having created this practice almost 40 years ago, I have studied and experienced a lot of things which I think will be of terrific value to young doctors who want to pursue this unique practice. This is a novel lecture topic for me and I will be spending quite a bit of time this month developing the presentation.

This month will also involve writing two papers on the Hyoid bone. I am excited to finally be at a point where I can commit additional time to writing. It is my goal that by the end of the month, Dr. Pettit and I will have both papers written and ready for submission for publication.

The Hyoid bone is the small bone in the throat which maintains the patency of the airway from the oral cavity to the trachea. The Hyoid bone is a “freely floating” bone but has 20 muscles attached to it. My research, along with what Dr. Pettit has described in his thesis research for his Master’s degree, shows that when the muscles of the jaw (those that move the jaw joint) are relaxed, the Hyoid bone moves down and forward, opening the airway. It is our theory that harmonizing the bite with the function of the temporomandibular joint through the use of orthotic appliances, much like what you wear, will in fact improve breathing. This, in turn, will help better oxygenate the brain and result in more efficient and restful sleep. Current research shows that if the brain is deprived of oxygen over an extended period of time, it can predispose a person to early onset dementia and possibly even certain forms of motor dysfunctions such as Parkinsonism.

I will be preparing for two other lectures which will take place in August and September; each having to do with training dentists who are already in practice and wanting to expand their practice into areas of TMD and Orofacial Pain. One will center on the use of 3D cone beam radiology in their practice and the other dealing with principles of diagnosis and treatment modalities.

As you can see Dr. Pettit and I remain very active in our pursuit of knowledge. This pursuit is for one reason, so that we will be able to provide you, our patient, with the most modern and up-todate treatment available anywhere in the world. Each of us are studying, reading, attending lectures, and delivering lectures so that we can give this knowledge back to you in return. You are our greatest asset and we will continue to work diligently to make your experience at MedCenter TMJ the very best possible.

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

Dr. Pettit’s Tips for Healthy Living

Healthy Bones For A Healthy You

Nathan J. Pettit, DMD, MSD

healthyOne of the most difficult systems in the body to maintain over a life-time is the skeletal system. Bone density, osteoporosis, osteopenia, and bone fracture are a major concern for many of us. What can be done to help ease the burden of age on our bones?

Physical activity and nutrition are key elements of long term bone health. Hormone levels also play an important part and may require medical management. In addition, genetics are shown to have a significant contribution to your risk for hip fracture. But what can you do today to help your bone health long-term? I hope to provide a few suggestions to support your bone health.

Most of us understand that calcium supplementation is beneficial for decreased bone density. After all, 99% of the calcium in our body resides in our bones. Along with calcium intake, vitamin D is critical in the support of strong bones. Some exposure to sunlight is very beneficial for our bones because it helps in the production of the right forms of vitamin D. Doing something as simple as taking a walk outside can benefit our bones by both supplying sunlight and physical activity. The recommended time for sun exposure is about 10-20 minutes a day.

If making it outdoors is difficult, a few food sources of vitamin D may help. Salmon (particularly wild salmon) is an excellent source of vitamin D. Sardines, Tuna, and shitake mushrooms can also provide a dietary source of vitamin D. In the elderly, maintaining protein intake also helps decrease the rate of age-related bone loss.

Believe it or not, fruit and vegetable intake also shows a positive correlation with better bone density. We aren’t sure which exact components are providing this benefit, although a few important micronutrients have been identified. These include vitamin K, magnesium, zinc, and carotenoids. Whole grains and green leafy vegetables particularly provide these nutrients. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables each day.

Chronic alcohol abuse can be detrimental to your bones, harming the very cells which form the bone. Many other drugs, including prescription medications, can have a negative effect on your bones. If you have been diagnosed with a low bone density or osteoporosis, consult with your doctor on the potential for your medications to be contributing to the problem.

Bones are the framework for support and movement in the body. Maintaining bone health is important to your overall health, and can be an important influence on your TMJ.

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


Building a To-Go Travel Kit for TMD Relief

buildingTMD problems can flare up at any time, and it’s never convenient. If you’re away from home when it happens you’ll have to just power through the pain and discomfort. That is, unless you’ve got your TMD relief travel kit.

You won’t find a TMD travel kit in stores, but it’s easy to put one together yourself in case your jaw starts aching when you least expect it. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Small pouch that’s compact enough to sit in a standard size purse or briefcase.
  • Few HotHands hand warmer packs. These are a great stand in for a warm compress.
  • A Dynarex instant cold compress. Like HotHands hand warmers, Dynarex’s cold compress packs cool instantly without refrigeration.
  • T-Relief or Icy-Hot w/ Lidocaine
  • A small vial of lavender essential oil, PanAway or Stress Relief. Essential Oils are a great aid in relaxation.
  • Individual packs or a small bottle of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Motrin or Advil.
  • With these items on hand, you should be able to manage TMJ discomfort no matter where you are.


Planning a TMD-Friendly Vacation

planningA summer vacation is a great way to spend time with the people you love and disconnect from the daily grind. Unfortunately, planning a vacation can be a stressful process, even when you don’t have to work around TMD. Experts at Harvard note that a poorly planned vacation can create stress and wipe out the positive benefits of taking time off.

There’s no need to let anxiety and TMD symptoms get in the way of your fun. Use the tips below to plan a TMD-friendly vacation that will give you a break from stress and jaw discomfort.

  • Start your vacation planning ASAP. The more time you give yourself to plan the less stressful it will be.
  • Go to a destination where you know a local. Having someone you know that’s knowledgeable about the area can lower stress since you have someone to show you around. This can also be a big benefit if you do have a TMJ flare up on vacation.
  • Use an app like Google Trips during the planning process. It will take a lot of the stress out of getting things together and creating an itinerary. Google Trips is unique in that it acts as a planner and travel guide for your vacation.
  • Pack your to-go TMD relief travel kit.
  • Also, pack any prescription medications your doctor has prescribed. Make sure to keep the medication in its bottle so that the prescription can be verified if needed.
  • Bring along travel snacks that are easy on your jaw’s joints.
  • Take a reusable water bottle on your trip. That way you can stay hydrated and avoid joint stiffness and pain.

The two biggest factors are minimizing stress and making sure you’re prepared to manage symptoms. For a few more tips on stress-free vacation planning check out the MedCenter TMJ blog.


Mac n’ Cheese Split Frankfurters

frankfurtersIt’s no surprise that July is National Hot Dog Month. Across the country, thousands of hot dogs are eaten at July 4th parties, summer barbecues and camping cookouts. Hot dogs are a summer staple, but for anyone with TMD, it’s a food that’s typically off limits since it requires opening wide to fit the food inside.

Well, this summer you can enjoy one of America’s favorite foods with this hot dog mac n’ cheese recipe. The split hot dogs can be eaten with a knife and fork to eliminate the jaw-jarring big bites that must be taken with a traditional hot dog. Next time you’re invited to a grill out bring these mac n’ cheese split frankfurters along to wow everyone with a fun, delicious way to enjoy hot dogs.


  • 1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 3/4 cup of evaporated milk
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 lbs. deli-style frankfurters


  • Cook the macaroni in boiling salted water until tender.
  • Drain and rinse the macaroni in hot water.
  • Combine the milk, mustard, salt, pepper and 2 cups of the cheddar cheese in the top of a double boiler. Stir frequently and cook until the mixture is smooth.
  • Add the macaroni to the mixture and blend well.
  • Split the frankfurters in half lengthwise, without cutting all the way through.
  • Top each split hot dog with the macaroni mixture.
  • Sprinkle remaining cheddar on top and bake in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes.

Now everyone can enjoy delicious hot dogs at the next summer BBQ!

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