March 2017 Newsletter

The Beginning of Springtime at MedCenter

Ronald C. Auvenshine, DDS, PhD

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

March is another busy month for Dr. Pettit and me. It is an eventful month because we both have birthdays in March. Personally, I am celebrating- as the famous comedian Jack Benny always said- “the anniversary of my 39th birthday”. I’m not saying how many anniversaries I’ve had since I was 39, but who’s keeping score, right?

The month of March begins for us with the Houston Dental Conference which is called the Star of the South. It will be held from the 2nd through the 4th of March at the George R. Brown Convention Center. The following weekend Dr. Pettit and I will travel to New Orleans to participate in a two-day gathering of the Parker Mahan Study Club Annual Meeting. Dr. Mahan was my professor when I was a student at the Emory University School of Dentistry. He is the person that I credit as my mentor in this field. I was extremely fortunate to do research with Dr. Mahan as a student. From that experience, Dr. Mahan became a lifelong friend and advisor. He is the one that encouraged me to pursue a PhD in anatomy. He helped me direct my practice toward the treatment of TMD and Orofacial Pain.

Much of what Dr. Mahan did for me, I am now passing on to Dr. Pettit. Dr. Pettit is a rising star in the field of TMD and Orofacial Pain nationally. I have had the privilege to be his mentor and friend for the past five years. Dr. Pettit has excelled in every aspect of his training. At this point, I trust him explicitly with of all our patients and in the administration of the necessary and appropriate care that they will receive. I strongly recommended that you meet and visit with Dr. Pettit if you haven’t already done so. I think that you will find him to be the caring and concerned doctor that you deserve for continued care and management of your temporomandibular disorder.

We will have several staff members who will be taking vacations during the month of March so that they can enjoy spring break vacation with their children. This spring I am excited about having been asked to give a Memorial lecture at Washington University School of Graduate Dental Studies in St. Louis, Missouri on April 12th.

I’m in the midst of presenting an eight-hour course on the Physiology of Occlusion and Biomechanics of Joint Movement to the graduate students at the University of Texas School of Dentistry. This is always a fun project for me. I have been doing in these lectures for a number of years and have been an adjunct professor at the Dental School for 38 years. It is a pleasure teaching young dentists the skills necessary for diagnosing and treating jaw problems and bad bites.

I am currently in the “initial talking phase” for greater participation in the Pain Clinic at LSU School of Dentistry in New Orleans. This is a project which Dr. Gremillion, the Dean of the Dental School, and I have had for a number of years. We are now very close to being able to create a TMJ treatment center in the Medical Center in New Orleans. I will not be moving to New Orleans, but I am certainly open to helping him get the clinic off the ground and work out the logistics for patient flow and care. This is something that I will do in addition to my normal work here in Houston. This also gives me an opportunity to spread the news to a more regional audience and to help dentists in the Louisiana area treat more complicated patients.

I am by no way retiring, so please don’t feel that I will be leaving the practice. I love what I do here and thoroughly enjoy working with Dr. Pettit. I will continue to work at MedCenter TMJ so long as there are patients who need my expertise.

As you can see we are always busy here at MedCenter TMJ. We are continuously learning as much as we can about of temporomandibular disorders and orofacial pain so that we can deliver the best care in the United States. I am proud of what we do here and I am thrilled with the association I have with Dr. Pettit. We will continue to work diligently to give you the best service and care anywhere in this wonderful country.

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

Colorful Springtime – Dr. Pettit’s Tip for Healthy Living

Nathan J. Pettit, DMD, MSD

UntitledFor this month’s tip for healthy living, I wanted to focus on the effect of color in our lives. I’ve referenced before, a variety of natural occurring colors in our food selection tends to help us reach a higher balance of nutrients and healthy eating. But could the colors we surround ourselves with affect our well-being?

Color is intimately related to our psyche and our learned behavior. Some of this is a natural result of conditioning, such as responding to a green light or a red light at a traffic sign. Commercial companies have invested thousands in researching the effect of colors on presentation, packaging and appetite. Even the color of an athlete’s jersey can affect the call made on the field.

There are both warm and cool colors. These colors can affect our mood, and depending on our current state of mind, may be comforting or agitating. This is not a well understood science, and individual responses do vary. Color preferences even fluctuate during the year depending on the season. Let’s discuss a few colors and their potential effect on your mood and outlook on life.

Red is known as a ‘stimulating’ color, associated with increased blood pressure, faster movement, and increase in eye blinking. With this tends to come an increase in hunger. Many restaurant chains are branded with the colors red and yellow, associated with increased appetite and recognition. Yellow, also a warm color, is associated with excitement and a cheery temperament. Orange, reportedly, can help you feel energized.

Blue is a cool color, tending to have the opposite effect of red. It usually portrays a feeling of peace, calm, and cleanliness. Green is also a cool color, often associated with this month’s celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. Green has been shown to encourage peaceful, healthy, and permissible feelings.

My suggestion is to pay attention to the color you surround yourself with. The colors you wear and the colors you live in can affect your outlook and energy. If you are feeling ‘blue,’ try introducing red and yellow into your setting. If you are an anxious person and too frequently find yourself on edge, consider adding greens and blues to your environment. Eat outdoors occasionally. Continue to plan a variety of natural colors for your plate, and you will be on your way to a healthier and happier you.

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


Making Holiday Food Work for You

Food Table Healthy Delicious Organic Meal Concept
It seems like every month there’s a different holiday. One thing that’s always part of the celebration is food. This month during St. Patrick’s Day people will be celebrating Ireland by wearing green and enjoying traditional foods.

For people with TMD, the celebration can be bittersweet. If you aren’t able to fill your plate with festive foods, it can feel like you’re missing out on part of the experience. No one wants to feel like an outsider on a holiday. Overcome your celebratory cuisine conundrum with one of the three ideas below!

Bring Your Own Holiday Dish
We’ve noted in the past that one of the easiest ways to make sure there’s something you can eat at a holiday party is to bring a dish. Find one that works for your diet and everyone can enjoy.

Create a New Tradition That Incorporates the Old
Having trouble finding a traditional dish that fits your diet? Then create one of your own. Use an element of a traditional food, like a flavor or key ingredient, and blend it with something new. For example, you can make eggs and a mint green shake on St. Patrick’s Day rather than doing a full Irish breakfast.

Make Foods Moist By Using Gravy
Irish food includes a lot of potatoes and breads, which go perfectly with gravy. Condiments like gravy can make foods more moist and easier to chew so there’s less stress on your jaw joints.


Spring Clean Stressful Thinking

Close up portrait of a young happy african woman leaning on the
March is the time for Spring Cleaning, but you don’t have to keep it to the house. Why not Spring Clean your stressful thinking? Stress is directly connected to how we process and react to adverse things in life. Positive thinking can help you combat stress before it creeps in and starts causing problems.

Start positive thinking in seven easy steps:

  • Keep a gratitude journal and make an entry every morning. This will put you in a much more positive mindset.
  • Acknowledge the negative thoughts that are weighing you down then find a solution for each one.
  • Accept that yourself and life aren’t perfect. Instead of dwelling on mistakes make a note of what you learned from them.
  • Think of yourself as a problem-solver, rather than a victim of your circumstances.
  • Turn self-talk into self questioning. Self-talk is our internal monologue. Mental health experts use many techniques to keep self-talk positive. One of the best methods is to ask yourself questions instead of just repeating positive affirmations. Asking yourself questions automatically puts you in a more proactive, problem solving state.
  • Surround yourself with positive people.
  • Volunteer or help someone out. By taking the focus off yourself and putting it onto someone else you’ll forget about your problems and feel a sense of fulfillment.


Eating Your Greens This St. Patty’s Day

healthy green spinach smoothie with lemon orangeSo much of our health is tied to the food we eat. Unfortunately, many Americans consume way less than the recommended number of daily produce servings. St. Patrick’s Day is the perfect time to have a greens day!

It’s time to break out the blender and start St. Patty’s off with a spinach orange breakfast smoothie. The citrus will give you an energy boost sans caffeine. The combination of produce also provides healthy dose of antioxidants while the hemp seeds provide protein.


  • 1 navel orange, peeled
  • 1/2 banana, peeled
  • 1 cup tightly packed organic spinach
  • 1/4 cup coconut water, adjusted as desired
  • 1 tablespoon hemp seeds, optional
  • Ice


  • Prepare all the ingredients and add them to the blender.
  • Mix on medium until smooth.
  • Pour and enjoy.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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