July Newsletter 2015

Wishing you a Safe Summer

Ronald C. Auvenshine, DDS, PhD

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

Summer is officially in full swing. Not only do we have the hot temperatures, but we have certainly seen our share of stormy weather here in the Houston area. We experienced the May and June floods and most of us have survived without loss. A neighborhood close to our office flooded due to heavy rains and water overflow at Braes Bayou which breached at the 610 Loop. As a result, the neighborhood of Meyerland completely flooded. Two close friends lost their homes and sustained irreparable damage. We pray for them and are thankful there were no injuries.

We have been very fortunate over the last four years not to have had a major hurricane hit our coast. We enter the 2015 hurricane season with the hope that we will enjoy another hurricane-free year.

Summer is a time of increased sporting activity for youngsters and young adults. My granddaughter plays softball for a team in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She has played for the last few years. She dearly loves the sport and is very enthusiastic about the competition and camaraderie that comes with it.

A few weeks ago, a friend posted a picture of a young girl on their Facebook page. Her name is Piper. Piper is about 15 years old and plays third-base on a fast-pitch softball team. She was struck in the face by a line drive and received a concussion. However, Piper’s face could have easily been crushed had she not been wearing a face mask. As a result of the mask, the injury, which in and of itself was severe, was minimized. I was quite impressed in reading Piper’s story, because for the first time I realized how important a face mask is for a player. I treat injuries of the temporomandibular joint resulting from sport accidents. I am now of the opinion that many of these injuries could be prevented had the player been wearing protective headgear. Batters have been required to wear helmets for years. In addition, I recommend for my patients that they wear a protective mouthpiece for their teeth. You never know when a ball might hit you in the mouth. This goes for basketball and field hockey as well.

I searched out Piper’s headgear online and found that there are many variations of headgear available for players. They are streamlined so it does not interfere with the player’s visual field and they are somewhat attractive compared to the face mask of other sports. I recommend that parents purchase a face mask for their child who plays sports, whether it is a girl’s or boy’s baseball, softball or basketball team.

The month of July is a month where school-aged children and young adults can enjoy time off and pursue their interests in competitive team sports. It is my desire to help all of these young people receive the greatest benefit from their sporting experience.

I personally have sustained injuries in every sport that I have played from junior high, high school and adult life. Fortunately, I have been able to recover from each of these injuries. However, I know how a broken jaw or a damaged jaw joint can affect one’s life from the time of the injury forward. Prevention of these types of injuries is by far the best cure. I urge you to at least go online and see the vast selection of protective headgear for the face and jaws. It is not expensive and it can save an individual a lot of grief.


On that same note, as many of you know, for 15 years I rode bicycles seriously. It became a passion and even though I didn’t compete, I actively rode with the Houston Bicycle Club and participated in many organized events. I became an advocate of the use of helmets as protective headgear for cyclists. I personally witnessed the ravaging effect of a crash which resulted in severe head trauma to one of our fellow cyclists. The sad thing about helmets is that the statistics show that only 5% of all new bicycle purchases are accompanied with a helmet sale. This means that we still have many people riding bicycles without head protection. I see this all the time in my own neighborhood, an adult riding a bicycle with earplugs listening to music and not wearing a helmet. Those are two major no-no’s for riding a bicycle. Leave the music at home and get a helmet!

Make this summer a safe summer. Whatever activities you or your loved ones participate in, make sure that you are well protected and safe.

Ronald C. Auvenshine, DDS, PhD

Dr. Pettit’s Tips for Healthy Living

Nathan J. Pettit, DMD, MSD

fishAs a feature of the MedCenter TMJ newsletter, we want to include a short and practical tip of the month for optimizing nutrition. An important element of healthy living is healthy eating. Finding jaw-friendly protein can be difficult since many meats are thick and tough. In this month’s newsletter, I am going to suggest fish as a great alternative to other meats, and suggest we eat it more frequently. Why fish?

Fish has many benefits to offer. It is a softer meat, which can ease muscle strain compared to other tough meats. It is still important to chew vertically, as the oils in fish may cause teeth to slide against one another unexpectedly. However, taken in small bites, not fried, fish can be very kind to your jaw.

The nutritious benefit of fish is in the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. Fish live in cold water, so their blood needs to be thin in order not to solidify in the cold temperatures. These omega-3 oils help keep our blood thin, and decrease the likelihood of plaque formation in the arteries. Other benefits include improved cardiac rhythm, decreased inflammation, and decreased incidences of some cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, and stroke. Specific conditions that seem to improve with omega-3 fats include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and eczema.

Inflammation of the jaw joint is a major source of TMJ pain. Increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids may alleviate some of this inflammation, as would decreasing strain from chewing tough meats. Besides the omega-3s, fish is also a good source of selenium and vitamin D (an important fat-soluble vitamin).

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American Heart Association suggest eating fish twice a week. Less than 20% of us are actually doing this. So when planning your meals in the coming weeks, consider having fish on the menu! This delicious and nutritious choice has many benefits for those with TMJ problems.

Nathan J. Pettit, DMD, MSD

A TMJ-Friendly Fourth of July

The Fourth of July is a day for celebration and plenty of eating. In fact, the entire month of July could be considered a celebration of food. This month is home to a number of cuisine-related holidays:

  • National Hot Dog Month
  • National Blueberry Month
  • National Ice Cream Month


Hot dog eating contests are a traditional July 4th event. One of the most famous events is the Nathan’s contest at Coney Island, where the holiday tradition supposedly started in 1916. If you’ve ever witnessed an eating contest, you know that filling your mouth is part of the game. It’s one reason why TMJ patients are at a disadvantage.

Pain is sometimes created not because of what you eat but how you eat it. Chewing too much at once puts a strain on your jaw and facial muscles. Smaller bites are always better because they cause less stress. But don’t dismay – you can still eat hot dogs! You’ll just have to take a little extra time to cut them up instead of biting into them whole.

Be a holiday hero this year with the Fourth of July dish on page 4 that celebrates our independence and TMJ-friendly food.



Summertime Fun for TMJ Patients

Though participating in hot dog eating contests is not encouraged, there are plenty of other painless summer activities you can enjoy. Here are our top picks for how TMJ patients can enjoy summer this year.

  • Drive-in movie – bring your own snacks and skip the crunchy popcorn.
  • Indulge in a lobster dinner.
  • Pick blueberries at a local farm.
  • Roast marshmallows over a bonfire.
  • Relax in a shady hammock with a good book – reading is a serious stress reliever.
  • Have a weekend picnic at the park.
  • Stargaze at home or by using a professional telescope at a nearby university or astronomy center.
  • Make a summer playlist to listen to while doing chores.
  • Check out a baseball game with the family.
  • Join a summer sports league – just make sure to wear a mouth guard.


Homemade Blueberry Ice Cream Recipe

Beat the summer heat and enjoy a sweet treat with this delicious Homemade Blueberry Ice Cream recipe. It will make two tasty quarts of frozen dessert for friends and family to savor at your Fourth of July party. Note that for this quantity you’ll need a bucket-style freezer container!

• 2 cups of granulated sugar
• ¾ cups of softened cream cheese
• 4 egg yolks (large)
• 3 cups 2% milk
• 1 cup of half-and-half
• 3 cups of fresh, chopped blueberries
• ¼ cup powdered sugar
• ¼ cup water

Cooking Instructions:
1. Mix the granulated sugar, cream cheese and egg yolks in a large bowl.
2. Beat the ingredients with a mixer at high speed until the mixture is smooth.
3. Combine milk and half-and-half in a saucepan and bring to a boil before removing from the heat.
4. Slowly add half of the hot milk mixture to the cream cheese and sugar mixture, whisking constantly.
5. Return the rest of the milk mixture to the saucepan.
6. Cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes stirring constantly.
7. Place the saucepan in an ice-filled bowl. Cool completely, stirring occasionally.
8. Add the blueberries, powdered sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
9. Reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes or until mixture thickens, stirring frequently.
10. Remove from heat and cool down completely.
11. Stir the blueberry mixture into the milk and cream cheese mixture.
12. Pour everything into the can of an ice-cream freezer; follow the manufacturer’s instructions for freezing.
13. Cover and freeze for 1 hour or until firm.


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