June 2017 Newsletter

The Beginning of Summer

Ronald C. Auvenshine, DDS, PhD

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

June is here and we’re almost halfway through 2017! It seems that time passes so quickly. We will soon turn around and be preparing for the Christmas holidays. As a matter of fact, at our last team building, we discussed the Christmas party and the dates for our Christmas vacation. It is truly astounding to me how quickly time flies.

June will be a busy month for me. The first weekend in June, I will be teaching a course at the LSU School of Dentistry in New Orleans. This is one of three courses that I will give in a five-course program called the Orofacial Pain Continuum. This program is specifically for dentists who are currently in practice and desire to have a more in-depth knowledge of the diagnosis and treatment of orofacial pain. It is now in its fourth year under the direction of Dr. Henry Gremillion. Dr. Gremillion and I are very close friends. Dr. Gremillion is the Dean of the LSU School of Dentistry, as well as a graduate of an Orofacial Pain residency program at the University of Florida School of Dentistry in Gainesville. Upon taking the deanship at LSU, it was Dr. Gremillion’s desire to develop a residency program very much like the one he attended at the University of Florida. Florida closed the pain program about 10 years ago, leaving a major void in the southeastern quadrant of the United States in regards to advanced training in orofacial pain. There is currently a group of us who are extremely interested in getting a new program up and going again. I am currently leading a fundraising drive to raise money to support a resident for two years in the Department of Orofacial pain. I will be more actively involved with the organization of the Orofacial Pain program at LSU in coming years. This does not mean that I will be moving to New Orleans. It just simply means that I will be going there more often to participate in teaching and directing the development of this new and exciting program.

The first full week of June, I will be enjoying a vacation in Florida with my son, his wife, and our two granddaughters. Linda and I celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary this summer. Upon Linda’s request, we have chosen to have a family vacation rather than have a big party. Either way, she and I will celebrate 50 years of marriage and the joy that we have spending time with our family. I look forward to any special time I get with my immediate family. So, we are excited about our week together in Florida.

Also in the month of the June, I will be having some Physical Therapy residents observing in the office. If you happen to have an appointment and you see some unfamiliar faces here, it just may be a physical therapist who is going through specialty training at Memorial Hermann/University of Texas School of Medicine. Last month, I was asked by the Coordinator of the Memorial Hermann Orthopedic and Sports Residency program if I would speak on temporomandibular joint anatomy, physiology, and management of care. The lecture was well received and the residents actually requested time to come to the office to observe how Dr. Pettit and I treat our patients. I love teaching and was very excited that they would be interested enough to request a special observation time here in the practice. I will be hosting my residents from the VA hospital here in the office for observation purposes as well.

The month of June begins the research of my second-year resident at the VA hospital. She will embark upon the third project involving the Hyoid bone. As many of you know, I have two residents who have completed their Master’s degree with research done here in the office on the study of the little bone in the throat called the Hyoid bone. Dr. Pettit was one of those residents and his interest was so stimulated that he chose the field of orofacial pain and joined me in this practice. The new study will involve the volumetric changes in the airway which occur before and after treatment with an orthotic appliance, such as one that you wear. We will begin publishing our results in journals this summer. Be on the lookout for more information regarding the Hyoid bone. If you would like to discuss this further, simply asked me or Dr. Pettit and we will be happy to share more information with you.

As you can see Dr. Pettit and I are always searching for opportunities for personal growth and development in the field of orofacial pain. We attend seminars, we lecture, we write papers, we do research, and we stay on top of the information for one purpose; and that is so that we can provide you, our patient, with the most up-to-date, current treatment available anywhere in the world. It is our goal that we offer you the optimum experience and care here in this office. You are our greatest asset and we will continue to strive diligently to provide you with the very best TMD care.

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

You Are What You Eat … Literally

Nathan J. Pettit, DMD, MSD


We emphasize again and again; you are what you eat. Quite literally, the food you consume becomes incorporated into the make-up of your body cells. Our cells will respond based on the quality of food we eat, and the nutrients we consume.
A dilemma many of our patients face is the inability to eat wholesome and nutritious foods regularly. Sometimes this difficulty is due to inability of the jaw or joints to handle the load of the food. When your TMJ flares up, it becomes difficult to open wide, to chew food completely, or even to swallow.

I want to mention a few guidelines to help ease the joint burden of eating nutritious food. These techniques were discussed by a dietitian at our recent scientific meeting of the American Academy of Orofacial Pain. Some of these guidelines will be familiar to you. Research in this field continues to support the same techniques we’ve been teaching for years.

The first guideline for food preparation is to cut or chop all foods you eat. When food is chopped or cut into small pieces, the need for mechanical loading is decreased. Remove components of food that are particularly tough. For instance, vegetables and fruits with skins should be peeled. These vegetables can be lightly cooked and then chopped for an even gentler texture. In addition, foods can be moistened to a comfortable yet appetizing consistency with gravies, sauces, or broth. Keep in mind that soft white breads are deceptive. You would be better off choosing thin, crisp crackers or bread which will break easily in your mouth and require less chewing to prepare for swallowing.

Chew slowly and carefully, particularly when trying a new or unfamiliar food. Vertical chewing strokes are best, encouraging more stability of the joints. Watching yourself eat in a hand mirror can be very effective in training your muscles how to move your lower jaw. If you are eating out, select restaurants in advance to ensure you have healthy foods available which will not over-work your jaw. Nutritious smoothies are an excellent way to increase fruit and vegetable intake.

The healthier food choices you make now, the better your body will feel and the more adaptive your body will be. Health is potentially your greatest asset.

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

What You Need to Know About Salt Water and Your Joints


As thousands of people head to the coast for beach vacations, it brings an important question to mind for anyone with TMJ. How does salt water affect your joints? Will splashing around in the ocean ease or aggravate symptoms?

It turns out salt water has long been a folk remedy for achy joints and muscles. However, the efficacy is also backed up by science. Manchester University researchers found that a saltwater bath eased inflammation and reduced arthritis symptoms without creating side effects.

The researchers discovered that some cells swell during periods of joint pain. However, soaking in a saltwater solution helped shrink the swollen cells by dehydrating them. The one caveat is that it has to be a hypertonic solution (high in salt content). So, soaking in the ocean during a beach excursion won’t hurt and could actually help if your joints are aching.

But just make sure to stay hydrated and keep your mouth closed while you’re swimming. Consuming excess salt has been shown to make problems like arthritis worse.

Avoiding Joint Pain During a Road Trip


Even though gas is about .30 more a gallon this summer compared to last year, AAA is estimating that more Americans will take a road trip. Their survey found about 80% of families plan on taking a summer trip and getting there by car.

If you’re in that group and have TMJ it’s best to start planning well in advance. TMJ pain may not start in your jaw. It can be triggered by stress, neck strain and a number of other issues connected to a car trip. Head off the jaw pain during your road trip by:

  • Resting up before you hit the road. Getting a good night’s sleep will help reduce tension.
  • Packing your own pillow. Staying well rested at a hotel is difficult if the pillow is subpar.
  • Stretching before you leave the driveway. Take 5-10 minutes to stretch out your muscles from head to toe before you hit the road.
  • Positioning the seat for maximum comfort. Once you’re in the car test out the controls and get the seat in a comfortable position. Focus on supporting your spine and neck. If the seat doesn’t offer lumbar support you may want to consider getting a backrest for the road trip.
  • Making frequent pit stops. If you’re driving more than a few hours make a pit stop so you can stretch and prevent soreness.

Taking these five steps at the start of your road trip should help minimize the chance of a TMJ flare up.


Low-Salt BBQ Sauce Recipe

Basting Brush And Bowl Of Barbecue Sauce

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines state that adults should consume no more than 2,300 mg of salt a day, which is less than a teaspoon. If you’re over 51 years old, have a pre-existing health condition involving the kidneys or have high blood pressure you should only consume 1,500 mg a day. Unfortunately, Americans eat an average of 3,400 mg of salt a day.

As noted above one of the many health problems that can arise when you consume too much salt is painful joint inflammation. While you’re soaking in the salty ocean at the beach, it’s a good time to think about how to reduce your sodium intake. Start with this delicious low-sodium BBQ sauce recipe.

Sauces are a great way to moisten food so it’s easier to eat, but many are filled with salt. Here in Texas, where barbecue is a way of life, this low sodium BBQ sauce can make your next cookout a little healthier.



  1. Mix all of the ingredients together in large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Heat the mixture until it starts to boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. If not being used immediately, refrigerate the sauce after cooking.

Creating a healthy, delicious BBQ sauce from scratch really is as easy as 1, 2, 3!

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