November Newsletter

Thanksgiving Blessings

By Ronald C. Auvenshine, DDS, PhD

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

Count your blessings! November is a special month for all of us. The season of Thanksgiving. This is the time of year when we all stop and take a moment to thank God for all the many blessings He has bestowed upon us individually, and collectively as a state and nation. Personally, I am thrilled to be living in the State of Texas. Every day as I drive to work, I see cars with out-of-state license plates. So many people have moved into our city over the past five years that we must be ahead of our 10-year growth prediction by thousands. The latest statistic reveals that we are averaging about 12,000 to 15,000 people per month moving to Houston. This means that our economy is robust. Jobs are abundant. There are many reasons behind this trend, but most importantly, it’s the fact that the State of Texas is friendly toward businesses.

2014 has been a wonderful year for me and my practice. I have been planning for the last 5 years to add a partner. I have searched high and low to find the right person. I have found that person in Dr. Nathan Pettit. Dr. Pettit joined MedCenter TMJ in July. He is an esteemed graduate of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine and the Prosthodontic Residency Program at the Houston VA hospital. Dr. Pettit is an outstanding clinician and an astute thinker. I was the director of his Master’s research, which he successfully completed and defended in April of this year. Dr. Pettit comes to MedCenter TMJ with many credentials already under his belt. He is well-trained and well-equipped to assume the position of Associate in my practice. He is truly a blessing to me personally, as well as to this practice. I am overjoyed with thanksgiving to have a person of Dr. Pettit’s qualification to join me in this life-endeavor.

I am thankful for the fact that our practice continues to grow and reach new referrals. We continue to strive to update our techniques and our equipment so that we will remain cutting-edge, providing services for those individuals who suffer from chronic daily pain caused from the TMJ. Recently, we added a new technology which is called “Tekscan.” Tekscan is a computerized program whereby an individual can bite down on a sensor and get a computer printout of the force exerted on each individual tooth. There are fewer than 25 Tekscan users here in the Houston area. We now join that elite group of practitioners with this technology. We will not only be able to analyze the force exerted on teeth, but we will be able to plan toward the correction of excess forces to prevent teeth from fracturing or from irritating the temporomandibular joint to cause pain.

I am truly thankful for the individuals that make up the MedCenter TMJ team. It is a joy to come to work each day and share the responsibilities of patient care with such outstanding and qualified people.This is a special group of individuals. Not only are they well-trained, but they truly care about serving patients’ needs. I have never had a staff quite like the women who work with me.

This past year we completed the renovation of our building. I’m thankful that I have a wonderful location for my practice. I have invested personal money to make sure that our equipment is the best and most up-to-date, and that the environment of our office is one that is pleasing, relaxing and puts people at ease. The building now, with its facelift, is inviting and up-to-date.

There are so many things happening in the world that are fearful, disappointing, and downright scary, but above all else we must realize that God is in His heaven and we should be thankful for what we have, not what we don’t have. Each day we should share thanksgiving with the people with whom we come in contact. I am totally dedicated to the treatment of patients who suffer from chronic pain and TMD. I am thankful for my career, for my training, for the mentors that brought me to the place I am today. I’m thankful for a wife who loves me and has patiently cared for me for all these years. I’m thankful for you, my patients, who put your trust in me. I do not take that lightly, but very seriously. I will continue to work diligently to provide you the very best service possible for your complex disorder.

Here at MedCenter TMJ, you are our greatest blessing.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Ronald C. Auvenshine, DDS, PhD

Dr. Pettit’s Tips for Healthy Living

thanks-givingAs 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. We look forward to this time of year, remembering the abundance we have, and gathering with friends and family to express gratitude for our many blessings. Our tip this month is a strategy to avoid ruining the celebration by over-eating and suffering the resultant effects.

First, we suggest not skipping any meals prior to your planned Thanksgiving feast. Eating less is fine, but starving yourself will encourage overindulging when you finally get to eat. Second, remember that you can always have second helpings! You will want to taste everything, and with proper portion control, you can! Take small portions of each dish you wish to try and do not feel the need to finish everything. Third, as we always encourage our patients, cut your food into small pieces. Take the time to really enjoy and feel the taste and texture of the delicious food. Gratitude for the food we eat helps us enjoy the goodness of the earth.

“If we see healthy eating and exercise as something only our doctor expects of us, we will likely fail. If we see these choices as who we are and who we want to become, we have a greater chance of staying the course and succeeding.” – Dieter Uchtdorf

Happy Thanksgiving!

Nathan J. Pettit,DMD, MSD

Veterans Day: MedCenter TMJ Salutes America’s Heroes

During his two-year tour of duty as a dental officer in the United States Army, Dr. Auvenshine saw firsthand the stress and physical strain that our military veterans endure. He went on to teach residents at the Michael E. Debakey VA Medical Center in Houston where he met Dr. Pettit, who headed the VA Prosthodontic Resident Myofascial Pain Clinic under Dr. Auvenshine’s direction. The experience was a very rewarding one for both doctors and has given them a newfound respect for our men and women in uniform.


Veterans have unique TMJ conditions that are often the result of stress, injury or a combination of the two. During the holiday season there is a lot of joy, but there is often more stress as well. This veterans Day we’re sharing tips that help everyone reduce stress and relax during the holidays.

Stress Relief and Relaxation Tips

Peaceful visualization with relaxed breathing – Picturing something serene while relaxing your breathing and body can reduce muscle tension.
Prayer and meditation – This is a great activity at the very beginning and end of the day. By giving the stress to God, you can relax your mind and jaw.
Massage therapy – There are specific massages for the face and jaw, but any massage therapy that relaxes the body is beneficial.
Yoga or tai chi – Both of these exercises focus on deep breathing and help to loosen up muscles while conditioning them.
Deep breathing – Taking deep breathes for five or more minutes helps to lower blood pressure and slow the heart.

Have a TMJ-Friendly Thanksgiving

The Thanksgiving holiday is, and always has been, about sharing a delicious meal with friends and family to give thanks for all the year’s blessings. Unfortunately, for people with TMD the meal can result in pain the following day.

Having a happy Thanksgiving is all about knowing which foods to pile on your plate and which ones to avoid. People with TMD should stick to soft foods that are easy to chew and can be eaten in small bites. It may seem like limiting what you eat on Thanksgiving will put a damper on the holiday, but the good news is you can still enjoy many traditional Thanksgiving foods.


TMJ-Friendly Thanksgiving Foods
• Pumpkin pie (you might need to skip the crust)
• Mashed potatoes and gravy
• Sweet potatoes and casserole without nuts
• Cranberry sauce
• Cornbread
• Ham (very small pieces)
• Squash soup
• Biscuits
• Candied yams

Foods to Avoid on Thanksgiving
• Roasted nuts
• Turkey
• Green bean casserole with crunchy onion topping
• Glazed carrots
• Pecan pie

Even when eating TMJ friendly foods, it’s important to remember to take small bites and cut food into pieces whenever necessary. Happy Thanksgiving!

RECIPE OF THE MONTH: TMJ-Friendly Baked Mashed Potatoes Recipe for Thanksgiving

Mashed potatoes are a Thanksgiving staple, but they’re also a standard dish for people with TMJ. You can make mashed potatoes special during the holiday by adding a few twists. Star chef Giada de Laurentiis shared one of her innovative dishes on the that’s perfect for Thanksgiving.

Instead of plain mashed potatoes cooked on the stovetop, the recipe calls for mozzarella, Parmesan and bread crumbs on top before baking it all in the oven. It takes less than an hour to make, and once you’re done you’ll have a side dish that’s delicious with or without gravy.

mashed-potatoesTry this baked mashed potatoes recipe yourself this Thanksgiving!

• 1 tablespoon butter
• 4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
• 1 cup whole milk
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
• 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella
• 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 2 tablespoons plain dry bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of butter and set aside.

Cook the potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water until they are very tender, about 15 minutes. Drain; return the potatoes to the same pot and mash well. Mix in the milk and melted butter. Mix in the mozzarella and 3/4 cup of the Parmesan. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Transfer the potatoes to the prepared baking dish. Stir the bread crumbs and remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan in a small bowl to blend. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the mashed potatoes. Recipe can be prepared up to this point 6 hours ahead of time; cover and chill.

Bake, uncovered, until the topping is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

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