May 2016 Newsletter

Month of Recovery

Ronald C. Auvenshine, DDS, PhD

Dr. Ronald Auvenshine
Dr. Ronald Auvenshine

The month of April ended with a major blow to the Houston area. On April 18th, Houston was inundated by a storm that dumped between 16 and 20 inches of rain on the city within a 24-hour period. It left several people dead and many stranded. There were over 1,700 rescues by the first responders in the Houston metropolitan area. There were thousands of people who were left without homes or with severe damage to their homes. I have lived in Houston for almost 40 years and have seen many storms hit this city. This was a devastating event and one which will go down in the history books. However, Houstonians are resilient people. We are strong and resistant, and I have absolute confidence that Houston will come back even better than before. I clearly remember that, as I crossed Bray’s Bayou on my way to the office on the morning of the 18th, I have never seen so much water in the bayou before. From the top of the bridge, it is at least 40 feet to the everyday level of the water. However, on April 18, the water level was seriously approaching the street level. I’m thankful that there were not more deaths across the Houston area. Again, it showed good leadership by our city officials.

The month of May will be a recovery month for me and Dr. Pettit. January through April were extremely busy months for the two of us. The weekend of April 15 and 16th, Dr. Pettit and I attended the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Academy of Orofacial Pain. I taught an all-day preconference course with Dr. Pettit’s help on April 14th. I was very pleased with the outcome of that course as we continue to make an impact on the field of orofacial pain. There were also three physicians who spoke on migraine headaches on Friday, April 15th. Dr. Pettit and I learned some new information which we are both in the process of researching, so that we can bring the best form of headache and pain management to you, our patients.

I am currently working on a chapter for a textbook which I agreed to write for my friend and colleague, Dr. Henry Gremillion, Dean of LSU School of Dentistry. The chapter will cover a subject with which I am very familiar, as it was the topic of my PhD dissertation research. As many of you know, my PhD was in Human Anatomy, but my dissertation research was in the field of neuroembryology or the development of the brain and nervous system. I consider myself to be a neuroembryologist and that will be the subject of this chapter for the textbook. I am hopeful that it will be ready for print sometime in 2017. When that date is finalized, I will make the announcement in our newsletter.

At the end of the month, my wife and I will join Dr. Romero and his wife for a trip to Indianapolis to attend the Indy 500. We have been looking forward to this trip for over nine months. This is the 100th anniversary of the Indy 500 and I know that it will be a wonderful event. I attended my first Indy 500 in 2013. I invited my son, Chris, to go with me and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Linda and I have not had a vacation all year, and we are looking forward to our Memorial Day break to enjoy a historic event. The Indy 500 is very exciting and is the most well-attended sporting event in the world, drawing over 350,000 fans each year. They’re expecting even more this year due to the fact that it is the 100th year celebration.

Dr. Pettit and I continue to search and research the field of Orofacial Pain and TMD. It is our goal and purpose to bring you the most up-to-date care available anywhere in the United States. We have already acquired more continuing education hours this year than the State of Texas requires in three years and we will continue to seek out courses, listen to speakers and developed lectures so that our techniques and our care will be exemplary within the field of dentistry. You are our greatest asset and we will continue to work diligently to earn your trust and loyalty.

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

Dr. Pettit’s Tip for Healthy Living

Nathan J. Pettit, DMD, MSD

Dr. Nathan Pettit
Dr. Nathan Pettit

My parents came to visit Houston last month and we had a wonderful time. My dad is a fanatic for gardening. He helped us pick out some fruit trees, and we planted a few in our back yard. One in particular I am looking forward to enjoying is our new avocado tree. This month, I want to highlight the nutritional benefits of avocados!

This unique pitted fruit has loads of flavor and plenty of nutritional benefits as well. Remember, the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans has emphasized the benefit of certain fats, particularly the poly and mono-unsaturated fats. Avocados provide a natural blend of healthy fats, which gives them the ability to aid the body in absorbing other important fat-soluble vitamins. Avocados are filling, providing fiber and folic acid. They are also an excellent source of the B-vitamins, potassium, and vitamin E.

Avocados make an excellent complement to a variety of foods. Their flavor can be enjoyed straight from the fruit, or mixed into a dish. Avocados make a great substitute for saturated fats in many recipes, helping to reduce unhealthy fats in our diet. Their soft texture makes them kind to the jaw and an ideal addition to any meal.

So go ahead and add an avocado to your dinner plans this week. Enjoy this delicious fruit with its satisfying flavor and nutritious benefits!

Nathan J. Pettit, DMD, MSD


Why Every TMJ Patient Should Celebrate “No Tobacco Day”

No smoking sign on door.

We all know that smoking is bad for our health. However, many people don’t realize it can have a direct impact on their temporomandibular joints and TMD symptoms.

Research has shown that smoking cigarettes can cause or worsen TMD, largely because of its affect on other bodily functions. Possible smoking side effects that impact TMJ health include:

  • Weakened immune system
  • Impaired sleep
  • Constriction of blood vessels in joints and the surrounding tissue
  • Added jaw movement and misalignment

The result is often intensified pain. A 2009 study from the Mayo Clinic that involved 606 TMD patients concluded tobacco use significantly increased pain in patients that had TMJ problems. In this group tobacco users were 4-5 times more likely to have moderate to severe pain. Doctors are trying to figure out the exact link, but it is clear there’s a connection between TMJ pain and tobacco.

May 31st is ”World No Tobacco Day”. It’s the perfect time to kick your smoking habit or help a loved one give up cigarettes for good. For more information, check out our blog post on how smoking affects your TMJs.

12 Things That Can Increase Your Blood Pressure

Blood-PressureNeed another reason to stop smoking? If you’re worried about high blood pressure (also called hypertension), then using tobacco should be a serious concern because it narrows arteries. High blood pressure is an indication that there’s a restriction of blood flow, and it often signals underlying heart disease.

Here are some other factors that can significantly raise your blood pressure:

  • Chronic and acute stress
  • Being over 45 years old
  • Family history of high blood pressure
  • Obesity or being overweight
  • Not getting enough physical activity
  • Eating a diet that’s high in sodium (salt)
  • Vitamin D deficiency ? Potassium deficiency
  • Drinking too much alcohol ? Sleep apnea
  • Chronic conditions like diabetes and kidney disease

An estimated 80 million Americans have high blood pressure. During May organizations around the world are offering free blood pressure checks as a part of National Blood Pressure Month. Help the World Hypertension League reach their goal of 3 million checks by May 17th!


Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough That’s Safe to Eat

Cookie Dough Bowl

National Chocolate Chip Day on May 15th is an opportunity to indulge in one of America’s favorite cocoa treats. Like we need a reason to enjoy chocolate chips!

Cookies may be the first thing that comes to mind, but there are a lot of delicious ways to use chocolate chip morsels. Some of them are even downright healthy. Chocolate chips can be added to yogurt or trail mix to add a touch of sweet cocoa flavoring. Or you can make eggless, edible chocolate chip cookie dough.

This simple recipe from Kailey’s Kitchen is a surefire hit with people of all ages who can’t resist a scoop of cookie dough. The soft, cool dessert is also a great addition to any Memorial Day celebration.


  • 1 stick softened, unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons refined sugar
  • 1 cup and 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Add butter, brown sugar, refined sugar and vanilla extract to a mixing bowl. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the ingredients until smooth.
  2. Add the flour, baking soda and salt to the mixture and mix thoroughly.
  3. Add the milk and mix until the dough is firm and smooth.
  4. Next fold the chocolate chips into the dough with a wooden spoon.
  5. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days or you can freeze it for up to 3 months.

That’s it. With a few ingredients and a little mixing, you’ll get fresh cookie dough that’s safe to eat!

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