May Newsletter 2015

To a Memorable May

Ronald C. Auvenshine, DDS, PhD

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

Dr. Pettit and I begin the month of May with the annual scientific meeting of the American Academy of Orofacial Pain in Denver. I will be speaking on Friday, May 8. The topic of my presentation is “The Anatomy of the Airway.” This is a similar lecture to the one I gave at the American Equilibration Society meeting in Chicago in February. I love the American Academy of Orofacial Pain, and have been a member since 1985. I have served in every capacity of leadership in this organization and was president from 1996-97. Because of my involvement, I have many friends and colleagues in the Academy. I am a founding member of the American Board of Orofacial Pain and have dedicated much of my extra time to the advancement of science in the field of orofacial pain through this organization.

I want to call your attention to our website. I am very proud of it and our website management firm, Local Surge Media. In the fall of 2014, Dr. Pettit and I did a series of videos about MedCenter TMJ and TMJ disorders with this firm. We are now ready to launch them on the website. I think you will find these to be a nice addition to the information that is already present online. Dr. Pettit and I plan to do more training videos in the future. We hope that you will visit our updated website, and support our practice on Facebook.

In 2012, I realized the importance of media relations in sharing our message with the general public. I contacted Local Surge Media to help MedCenter TMJ progress into the new era of digital media. Our new website has now been up and running for about two years, and I am extremely pleased with where we are at this point. We are reaching more and more people every week, which is exciting to both me and Dr. Pettit.

We continue to find new and better ways of providing services to our patients. We have been using our Cone Beam 3-D scanner for four months, and we are thrilled with the performance of this unit. The beauty of the new scanner is the fact that it can take three-dimensional scans and collect a great volume of information with minimum exposure radiographically. The amount of exposure you receive from one of our scans is less than that of a Panorex x-ray in a general dental office. One of the reasons why I invested in this new technology was the simple fact that the company had designed this unit to absorb more of the radiation exposure without it being transmitted to the patient. We will continue to look for better ways of providing more information at less risk to our patients.

The month of May will end with Memorial Day. This will be a four-day weekend for us as we honor our veterans on Monday, May 25. As a veteran of the Vietnam era, I greatly appreciate the sacrifice of those who have served our country. I entered the Army as a dental officer in 1971. My commitment was for two years. Those two years at Fort Riley, Kansas, were two of the best years in my dental career. This time allowed me to mature in my dental training beyond school. I was under outstanding leadership, which provided me two opportunities to study at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C. My military experience enabled me to decide the direction I wanted my practice career to go. It was through my military experience that I decided to continue my education, which I did by receiving a PhD in Human Anatomy at LSU School of Medicine.

I am the founder and director of the Orofacial Pain Clinic at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston. Though this is a volunteer opportunity for me, it is a very important part of my life. It enables me to give back to those who have suffered most and paid a large price for our country. May we never forget the cost of freedom and those that have gone before us. Please take time on May 25th to quietly remember our veterans.

Ronald C. Auvenshine, DDS, PhD

Dr. Pettit’s Tips for Healthy Living

Nathan J. Pettit, DMD, MSD

paper-bagAs a feature of the MedCenter TMJ newsletter, we want to include a short and practical tip of the month for optimizing nutrition. An important element of healthy living is healthy eating. This month is home to National Brown-Bag-It Day, which occurs annually on the 25th of May. This unique holiday reminds us to get creative and pack our own lunches. I’ve chosen to discuss this topic not only because it can save you money, but because it has potential health benefits as well.

I have been bringing my own lunch from home to work for the last four years. One reason I enjoy packing my own lunch is that I know exactly what I’m eating! This can be a major health benefit for those who take conscientious steps to choose wholesome foods from healthy sources. Having a refrigerator available will open up the possibilities. When I was a student working in a small office, I purchased my own miniature refrigerator to ensure I could bring lunch from home. I found that I not only saved money, but valuable time as well, since I did not have to wait in lines to order food from another source. Soon, others in my office were doing the same.

Bringing lunch from home allows you to eat food that you prepared. Whether a meal’s leftovers or something made for your lunch the night before, you are in control of the texture and nutrition of your food. It is imperative that we are mindful of our food choices and control the strain we put on our jaws. Having a TMJ disorder can be troublesome when foods with potential headache triggers or difficult textures are served at a restaurant or from another vendor.

Stay in control of the food you eat and consider packing a lunch from home next time you go out. You can make it as creative, simple or gourmet as you choose. After all, it’s your lunch!

Nathan J. Pettit, DMD, MSD

Relax During High Blood Pressure Month

High blood pressure and TMJ disorders have a few things in common, one of which is stress. Both conditions can be a direct result of stress from everyday life. The body reacts to stress in many ways – some of the reactions are good, but most of them have a negative impact on our health.

National High Blood Pressure Education Month was established to bring awareness to hypertension and the causes behind it. At MedCenter TMJ, we’re using the event as an opportunity to highlight the ways people can improve TMD symptoms and their blood pressure through relaxation.

One of the easiest and most effective methods for relieving stress-induced tension is through the use of essential oils. Essential oils have been used therapeutically for thousands of years by many cultures. They are created by using steam (distilling) or expression (cold pressing) to draw natural oils out of plants.

These oils can be applied topically, inhaled or ingested to treat a number of ailments. If essential oils are applied topically they often must first be diluted, and some oils should only be inhaled due to their chemistry.

Topical Application Methods:

  • Massaging oil into skin
  • Bathing in water with essential oils
  • Compress soaked in essential oil solution and then applied to skin

Inhalation Methods:

  • Using a diffuser
  • Adding essential oils to a bowl of steaming water
  • Dry evaporation using cotton balls
  • Water-based sprays

The aromas of essential oils can be quite powerful, especially when using the steam method. Lavender essential oils are particularly effective for relaxation. Sandalwood and frankincense are also known for their relaxing aromatherapy benefits.

Testimonial: The Power of Essential Oils

oils“After a medical scare last year, it was my goal to make healthier choices for myself and my family. Someone in my life introduced me to essential oils. We, as a family, have been using them religiously since the summer and, for us, it has been life changing.

I have found these oils to tremendously help with my TMJ (as long as I wear my appliance…which I can’t sleep without). Because I carry tension in my neck and shoulders, during stressful times I get headaches. Since I have been using these essential oils, along with the appliance, I can tell a HUGE difference in the amount of headaches and tightness and tension in my neck, shoulders and jaw. I can always tell when one of my tension headaches starts. Now, if I can get my oils on quickly…it passes just that quickly!

I also know that when stress starts to mount, I can help keep it to a minimum with my oils as well. With my appliance and these oils, I am living with so much less pain and stress. The two are like salt and pepper! I know the pain that can be associated with TMJ and wanted to share my success story, just in case it might help someone else. When I find something that works, I want to share it. My sweet grandmother is battling arthritis (she takes injections, has a hard time getting around, etc.) and we have successfully used these essential oils to give her some relief! Not all essential oils are the same…I’ve done a lot of research and completely believe in the brand I use. I am thrilled to hear MedCenter TMJ will be offering these products in their office to their patients. I want everyone suffering from TMJ pain, like I have for years, to be able to experience the same relief I have had.”

– Hillary Hathorn

Honoring Our Military Men and Women This Memorial Day

Stress is an unavoidable part of life. For most of us it comes from overbooked schedules, juggling work and home life, or trying to break unhealthy habits. We do whatever we can to rid our lives of this stress.

But the men and women of our military do an extraordinary thing. They willingly take on stressful jobs that can impact their lives well after retirement. Our military personnel carry heavy burdens that are mentally, physically and emotionally taxing each and every day. And they do it for all of us, so our lives will be less stressful.

Imagine what our lives would be like without the men and women in uniform, both past and present. Memorial Day is a chance for us to honor them and say thank you for choosing a more challenging path so life is easier for us all.


Have an All-American Meal This Memorial Day

Nothing is more American than the hot dog! As summer gets into full swing, baseball games play on TV and we take the time to honor our military, a hot dog dish seemed perfect for the occasion. This Hot Dog Casserole is a tasty, easy-to-eat source of protein for people with TMJ disorders. Pair it with a side of baked beans and you’ve got an all-American meal.

hot-dogHot Dog Casserole Ingredients (6-8 Servings)
• ½ pound of hot dogs (can substitute light for less calories)
• 8 oz. of elbow macaroni
• 2 ¼ cups of shredded American cheese
• 5 tablespoons of butter, unsalted
• ¼ cup all-purpose flour
• 2 cups of milk
• ½ teaspoon of salt
• ¼ teaspoon of pepper
• 1 small onion finely chopped

1. Cook and drain the pasta. While the pasta is cooking, slice the hot dogs up into bite-sized rounds.
2. Next, preheat the oven to 350° while preparing the rest of the dish.
3. Combine the hot dog slices, cooked pasta and two cups of cheese in a greased 2-quart casserole dish. Mix well.
4. In a medium saucepan, mix the butter and onion. Cook over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes.
5. Whisk the flour into the butter and onion mixture until the flour is fully absorbed. Remove from the heat.
6. Slowly pour the milk into the saucepan while whisking. Whisk thoroughly until smooth.
7. Return the saucepan to heat. Continue whisking while adding the salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking the entire time to avoid burning.
8. Remove from heat at the first sign of boiling and immediately pour the mixture into the casserole dish with the other ingredients.
9. Gently stir to combine then sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
10. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes until the cheese has melted and browned on top.

Easy, affordable and delicious for everyone – Happy Memorial Day!

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