May 2017 Newsletter

A Restful Month This May

Ronald C. Auvenshine, DDS, PhD

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

Usually, May is extremely busy; however, this year I have decided not to attend the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Academy of Orofacial Pain (AAOP). This year’s meeting will be in Scottsdale, Arizona. Dr. Pettit is planning on going for the four-day meeting. I had planned to go; however, my son, Dr. Christopher Auvenshine, is coming to Houston for a long four-day weekend. Chris has been on call for the last two months. He called me recently and said that he would like to come home for a visit. He wants to play some golf and hang out with me and his mother. With an offer like that, I immediately canceled my trip to the AAOP meeting. I have attended every meeting of the AAOP since I joined in 1985. I have served as President of the Academy along with every other office and position in the organization, but to be able to spend four days with my son supersedes any obligation that I feel toward the Academy.

As we begin to look forward to the summer, I am in the midst of writing three major research papers on the hyoid bone. As I have written in previous newsletters, the hyoid bone has been of extreme interest to me for the past 5 to 7 years. Dr. Pettit was one of my first residents at the VA Hospital to do research on the hyoid bone. His study enabled him to receive his Masters degree from the University of Texas School of Dentistry here in Houston. We have more research planned on the hyoid bone. There will be a resident starting a new research project this summer here in the office. More on that project will follow in future newsletters.

During the month of May, I will be preparing for my upcoming anatomy course which I teach in New Orleans along with Dr. Henry Gremillion at LSU School of Dentistry’s Orofacial Pain Continuum. This is a two-day anatomy course which will be taught with dissection specimens. In addition to one-on-one teaching, I will give several lectures within the course; one being osteology (bones) of the skull. This is always a fun project for me and I look forward to continuing to be an active part of the Orofacial Pain Continuum at LSUSD for many years to come.

The first week of June, I will be joining my brother and sister in California for our annual sibling reunion. We have been doing this now for about 12 years. Each year the three of us choose a destination and make arrangements to spend a week together. It’s always fun and we enjoy each other’s company. My brother and I are avid golfers and we always manage to find a golf course where we can match our skills, playing for “Championship of the World”. He won the Championship last year, so I’m out to win back the “bragging rights” this year. My brother, who is seven years older than I, taught me how to play golf when I was 12 years old. Needless to say, he is one of my all-time heroes and I love being able to spend time with him and my sister.

The month of May will close with the celebration of Memorial Day. The office will be closed for the four-day weekend. It’s always a special time as we remember the men and women who have served this nation in the Armed Forces, as well as those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. I am proud to be an American. I’m proud to have served my country as a Captain in the US Army. The two years I spent as a young dentist at Fort Riley were instrumental in shaping my career in dentistry. It is with extreme humility that I remember those special years and the professionals with whom I worked. We did some pretty incredible treatment as we served our soldiers as they were returning from Vietnam, many of whom suffered severe bodily injuries. What a great experience. I would gladly do it again if I were given the opportunity.

Dr. Pettit and I continue our quest for more knowledge, both in academic research as well as clinical application of new information that surfaces daily. We will continue to read, study, take courses, give lectures, or whatever it takes, so that we can offer to you, our patient, the greatest care possible for this very complex disorder. We thank you for choosing MedCenter TMJ for your TMD care and we will assure you that we, as a team, will do everything possible to make sure that your experience with us is the very best.

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

Eating Habits & Your Liver Health – Dr. Pettit’s Tip for Healthy Living

Nathan J. Pettit, DMD, MSD

This month I want to discuss a very important organ of the human body. It is the largest gland in your body, and what you eat can affect its health. This organ is your liver, responsible for more than 500 tasks of the human body. A few of these functions include the synthesis of important blood proteins, the control and storage of energy, and the metabolizing and removing of toxins in the body.

Dr. Auvenshine and I recently attended a 2-day seminar discussing nutrition and the effect of the diet on certain body systems. The liver was a topic of our seminar. Let me share a few of the key points taught in our course. The first involves a list of foods to eliminate from our diet to optimize liver health. Some of these foods will be difficult to eliminate completely, but reducing our regular intake of these foods can have a lasting effect on our liver health. On this list of foods to avoid is trans-fatty acids, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, food colorings, refined carbohydrates, high fructose corn syrup, fried foods, and alcohol.

There are foods which can help promote liver health. These include apples, avocadoes, grapefruit, garlic, green leafy vegetables, lemons, limes, beets and carrots. Each food has a desirable effect on the liver. Apples contain pectin, which will bind toxins in the digestive tract. Eating avocadoes can increase glutathione, an important antioxidant for the liver. Garlic activates good liver enzymes, while green leafy vegetables contain chlorophylls that help neutralize chemicals, heavy metals, and pesticides. Lemons and limes help increase vitamin K, while beets and carrots provide plant flavonoids.

Our body makes use of the materials and nutrients it is given. What we eat will affect the cells of our body, for better or for worse. Chronic pain disorders may lead your body to require more of these important and sustaining nutrients. I encourage you to select from the healthiest foods available. Continue striving for balance in every aspect of your life. It will help you in your quest to find a happier, healthier you.

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

Safely Eating Strawberries

Strawberries are in season during May, which brings up an important point for people who have TMD. All those little seeds can cause some major dental issues that require flossing. The problem is, flossing can be difficult if you can’t open your jaw all the way, or have to keep it open while you floss.

Fortunately, there are a few tricks to eating strawberries without all the seeds ruining the experience.

  1. You can puree the strawberries and then use a very fine strainer to remove the seeds. You may have to push the puree through the strainer.
  2. Another option is to gently peel the outside of strawberries with a paring knife.
  3. Swish with water to help remove seeds right after eating. If possible, also brush your teeth soon after eating the strawberries to dislodge the seeds.

Overall the strawberry seeds shouldn’t cause a serious problem as long as you take precautions and follow up with a good teeth cleaning. They’ll be a deliciously nutritional treat that’s ripe for the spring season.


Heading Off Allergies Before They Start

We are deep into the spring, which means pollen and allergens are floating through the air. If you look at the air quality reports in the morning you’ll quickly find that there are a lot of particles that can agitate your sinuses. That could trigger other problems connected with your TMJ pain, making matters far worse.

Since an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, the best thing you can do is head off allergies before they occur. Here’s how:

  • Visit an allergist if you haven’t already. The allergist can identify which specific particles cause an allergic reaction for you.
  • Check the air quality reports every morning. If the allergens that aggravate your sinuses are high, limit your time outdoors.
  • Use allergy medicine as needed. As soon as you feel allergies coming on, take medication to minimize symptoms like congestion that can cause pressure to build.
  • Give your house a good Spring Cleaning. Vacuuming, dusting and cleaning the house can help remove allergens.
  • Clean or replace your air filters every month. This can help clear the air of dust and allergens while the AC is cranking.
  • Avoid mid-day outdoor activities. Allergens tend to be highest from around 12-4pm.


Healthy Mexican Guacamole Dip

Avocados are a super food for a reason. They help support liver health, provide monounsaturated fats, have tons of potassium and many other nutrients. Plus, there’s another benefit for people with TMD. Avocados also have a creamy, smooth texture that’s easy on the jaw.

Since we’re celebrating Cinco de Mayo this month join the fun with this delicious, nutritious Mexican guacamole dip.


  • 3 ripe avocados (slightly soft when squeezed)
  • 1 smallonion, red or white, finely diced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1lime (juiced)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • Tabasco sauce (optional)
  • Sour cream (optional)


  1. Cut the avocados in half to remove the flesh inside. Discard the skin and pit.
  2. Place the avocado into a medium bowl, mash and stir with a fork until moderately creamy.
  3. Add diced onion and tomatoes to the avocados.
  4. Add the lime juice, salt and pepper to taste. Add the tabasco sauce to your liking.
  5. In a separate small bowl add 2 tablespoons of the dip. Add 1 tbsp of sour cream and adjust your seasonings. Taste it to determine if you prefer your guacamole with or without sour cream.
  6. If using sour cream add 4 tablespoons or more to the avocado mixture and adjust your seasonings again. If not, put the guacamole in the fridge to chill.
  7. Serve chilled with chips or add a little guacamole to your favorite Mexican dish.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

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