March Newsletter 2015

Marching Into The Spring Season

Ronald C. Auvenshine, DDS, PhD

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

March is shaping up to be another busy month for the team at MedCenter TMJ. Dr. Pettit and I will begin the month with a trip to New Orleans, where we will attend the annual meeting of the Parker Mahan Study Group from March 6-7. Of course, New Orleans is a wonderful venue for any traveler. I lived there for five years while completing my graduate studies at LSU School of Medicine. My time as a New Orleans resident was extremely pleasant. My wife and I loved living there, and we still have many friends who we look forward to seeing. The director of the Mahan Study Club is my very close friend and former student, Dr. Henry Gremillion. Dr. Gremillion completed Dr. Mahan’s residency program in Orofacial Pain at the University of Florida. The Mahan Study Club was established before Dr. Mahan’s death in 2010. We started as a very small group of graduates of Dr. Mahan’s program at the University of Florida. We have now expanded our membership to include invited guests of Dr. Mahan’s former students. I was grandfathered into the study club, being Dr. Mahan’s first student to pursue TMD and orofacial pain as a practice career without having gone through his residency program.

The rest of the month will be busy as we begin training new staff members. As many of you know, there are some new faces at MedCenter TMJ. During the latter part of February, Ms. Van Vo, one of our key dental assistants, decided that she wanted to change careers. It was with great sadness that we saw her leave our fold. We wish Van the best of success as she pursues her new career. We know that it will be difficult to replace her, but through the support of our remaining staff, particularly Katrina and Nadia, we are making great strides toward finding a new addition to the team. Our goal as always is to ensure that your care with us continues to be the very best.

Dr. Pettit and I will also attend the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orofacial Pain during March. This year I will be speaking at that meeting on the “Anatomy of the Airway,” as the meeting focuses on problems of sleep, sleep disorders, and nighttime pain. The venue for this year’s meeting is Denver, Colorado.

Dr. Pettit will be on vacation this month during his daughter’s Spring Break. They are planning a trip to eastern Oregon, to visit his mother and father.

We are excited about our new FLX 3-D Cone Beam scanner. We purchased the scanner before the end of 2014. We are seeing the benefits of this new technology every day. Our scans are more clear with less radiation exposure to our patients than ever before. This is exciting new technology which we offer our patients at MedCenter TMJ. I feel that our diagnostic workup and our ability to document parameters of the biomechanics of the temporomandibular joint exceed any evaluation anywhere in the country.

Dr. Pettit had the privilege of presenting a table clinic before the Greater Houston Dental Society on February 17. His title was “Diagnosis and Management of TMD and Orofacial Pain.” His presentation dealt mainly with differential diagnosis in helping the general practitioner accurately pinpoint sources of patients’ pain and complaints. It’s exciting to see Dr. Pettit take an active role in teaching other dentists the skills that he has learned through my program at the VA and here in our practice. Our goal is to share our knowledge with as many practicing dentists as we possibly can.

As you can see, we are constantly pursuing additional education and technology as we strive to offer you, our patient, the most comprehensive diagnosis and treatment in the field of TMD and orofacial pain. We want your experience with us to be the very best and of great benefit to you as we seek to treat and manage this very complex disorder. You are our most important asset and we will continue to work diligently to gain your trust.

Ronald C. Auvenshine, DDS, PhD

Dr. Pettit’s Tips for Healthy Living

Nathan J. Pettit, DMD, MSD

lettuceHappy St. Patrick’s Day!

This is one of my favorite times of year. It brings the beginning of spring and the fun of St. Patrick’s Day. St. Patrick was said to have taught the Irish pagans about the Holy Trinity using the three-leaved shamrock. Ever since, we have celebrated the day with green clothing, decorations and food. Although we don’t recommend that our patients eat shamrocks, there are many green leafy foods which can provide benefits for your health. Preparing these foods in a way that will allow gentle use of the TMJ will be important.

Green leafy vegetables contain important fibers, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals (plant-based substances) which help protect us from oxidative stress, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. One of the best leafy greens for nutrition is Kale. It is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, potassium and folate. Other excellent greens include spinach, swiss chard, collards, turnip greens and mustard greens.

Greens can be mixed into a decorative salad, but even salad can be difficult on your TMJ. If you find salad to be difficult to chew, prepare these nutritious greens with broth in a soup, steam them, or saute with oil and garlic. This will soften the greens enough to ease the stress on your jaw while maintaining much of the nutrient value in the food.

Chewing leafy foods may increase your tendency to slide your teeth sideways against each other, so remember to chew in vertical strokes, and to take small bites. Shredded lettuce is a helpful option when preparing salads. It takes time with a cutting board, but this will reward you with a refreshing dish that won’t leave you feeling sore.

Here is one additional way to add some green to your dishes. One of my favorite flavors to add to almost any salad is freshly squeezed lime juice. It doesn’t take much, so you can save some lime wedges for later. Keep making smart choices with your food and you will feel a difference. Happy March!

Nathan J. Pettit, DMD, MSD

Making a Conscious Effort During Sleep Awareness Week

mountains-layingWe exercise and we eat right, but some of the biggest health benefits happen when we aren’t awake. How much and how well we sleep directly affects our energy levels, alertness, decision making abilities, hormone production and muscle repair, among other things. But for people with TMJ disorders, something less beneficial can occur while sleeping – teeth grinding, clenching and pain.

Sleep Awareness Week is March 2-8 this year, and it’s a great time to do some spring cleaning around your bedroom. Creating an ideal sleep environment and understanding how your sleeping habits affect the TMJ can help you get a better night’s snooze so that your body and mind are in the best condition possible.

Know how much uninterrupted sleep you need. Adults need about 8 hours, teenagers need around 9 hours, school-aged children need approximately 10 hours and kids from ages 2-5 need 11-13 hours of sleep a day.

Sleep on your back. This is the best sleeping position for TMJ sufferers because it limits strain on the jaw.

Lower the room temperature. As you move into deeper stages of sleep your body temperature drops. Keeping your room a few degrees cooler at night can help aid the process.

National Nutrition Month Begins at the Grocery Store

shopping-cartMarch is National Nutrition Month! Instead of focusing on your plate, go back a few steps because healthy eating really starts at the grocery store. This month we are challenging everyone to reevaluate the way they shop for food and start creating healthier habits that will have a positive affect on the entire family.

Get Connected with the Food You Eat
Many of us think about grocery shopping as just another weekly chore. In reality, each trip is a building block for your health. Instead of rushing through the store to pick up the standard items you always get, take time to browse the selection. You may find that there are healthier options and items you never knew were available. If there is a farmer’s market in your area, this is a great way to get a better understanding of where your food comes from.

Make Over Your Shopping List
Grocery shopping lists can help you save time and money while also helping you stick to healthier food selections. Follow these steps to create the ultimate healthy eating shopping list:

Step 1 – Create a weekly menu and identify the ingredients needed for each dish.
Step 2 – Look over each item and consider whether there’s a healthier alternative. Hint: the shorter the ingredients list is, the healthier it’s likely to be.
Step 3 – Try something new. Add one or two healthy items that your family has never tried before.
Step 4 – Focus on fresh foods and limit the number of processed foods on your list.
Step 5 – Know your store. Group items how they are arranged in the store to make shopping a little easier.

Put Blinders on When You Check Out
Stores put candy and other impulse buys in the checkout aisles in hopes that you’ll be tempted to grab a few treats. When you’re in line, focus on the groceries you’re unloading instead of scanning the display. One way to avoid the temptation is to go when the grocery store is less busy so you don’t have to wait in line.

Recipe of the Month

Avocado Mashed Potatoes
avacadoIt’s not Irish, but it is green! Avocados are extremely healthy, especially for people with joint issues like TMJ disorders. The soft insides of this fruit are loaded with healthy monounsaturated fats, antioxidants, vitamins, 11 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein. Some people even use them as a substitute for hard-to-chew meats.

Give avocados an Irish twist on St. Patrick’s Day with this Avocado Mashed Potatoes recipe from

• 2 avocados
• 1 ½ pounds of potatoes – white or red
• Salt
• Pepper
• ½ pound of butter – can be less and low fat for a healthier alternative
• 1 quartered lemon
• 2 garlic cloves

1. Clean, peel and cut up the potatoes.
2. Put potatoes in a large pot with salted cold water. Bring the water to a boil, cover and let the potatoes simmer for 20 minutes.
3. While the potatoes are simmering, put the butter, lemon and garlic in a sauté pan and simmer on low heat for at least 20 minutes. Discard the garlic cloves and lemons once the butter is done cooking.
4. While the other ingredients are cooking, halve the avocados and scoop out the meat. Set the avocado to the side.
5. Once the potatoes are done, drain the water and mash the potatoes up to your liking. Fold in the butter and avocado. Finally, season the potato mixture with salt and pepper, then enjoy!


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