October 2016 Newsletter

The Special Month of October

Ronald C. Auvenshine, DDS, PhD

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

It’s the month that we celebrate Halloween, the beginning of the last quarter of the year and the time that marks the upcoming Holiday season along with the hustle and bustle of that goes with November and December. For me and Dr. Pettit, the month of October will be an exceptionally busy month. On the 14th and 15th, I will travel to New Orleans to present my second lecture in the Orofacial Pain Continuum program. This is the third year that LSU has hosted the Orofacial Pain Continuum. This is a mini-residency program that consists of five, two-day weekends totaling approximately 120 hours of continuing education. The participants in this program are practicing dentists throughout the United States. They travel to New Orleans for the sole purpose of receiving advanced training in the field of TMD and Orofacial Pain, which is not available anywhere else in the country. I am very proud to be a part of this program. It is my desire that in the future, I will play an even greater role than I have in the first two years.

On October 20th, my wife and I will travel to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to visit my son, daughter-in-law and two granddaughters. My oldest granddaughter is a junior in high school this year. She is a member of her high school’s dance team. They perform at halftime during football and basketball games. It just so happens that Thursday night, October 20th, is their last football game of the season and the last opportunity I will have to see her perform. So, I have canceled all of my plans for the weekend and will travel to South Dakota to be a part of that experience. I am really looking forward to spending the weekend with my son and his family.

We continue to research new ways of being able to deliver the very best care to you, our patients. I could not be more pleased to have someone with the quality and expertise to be a co-member of MedCenter TMJ, as Dr. Pettit. As many of you know, Dr. Pettit was one of my residents at the VA hospital. He was in a three-year specialty program within the Department of Dentistry. His specialty is in the full mouth reconstruction of broken and destroyed dentitions. During his 3 years, Dr. Pettit became very interested in my work and wanted to specialize in the field of TMD and Orofacial Pain. It was with that special interest, that I offered him a position in this practice. He has been with MedCenter TMJ for two years. He joined the practice in July of 2014. Those of you who have had the opportunity to work with Dr. Pettit know that he is extremely caring and competent in what he does and has a wonderful attitude toward the treatment of chronic pain.

I am not retiring!! I do not plan to go anywhere. I am simply cutting back on my time in the office by only one day a week. I work Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and Dr. Pettit covers Thursdays and select Fridays. I know that you will extend to him the same warm courtesy that you extend to me.

Our goal at MedCenter TMJ is to provide you the very best care anywhere in the world. We both attend seminars. Dr. Pettit is now teaching seminars and giving lectures to local groups and each day grows and matures in the treatment of TMD and Orofacial Pain. We will continue to work diligently researching and constantly looking for new methods of treatment. Our number one goal is to provide you, our patient, with exceptional service. We have a dedicated staff who shares our passion and together we strive to make your experience with us the very best. You are our greatest asset and we will continue to work diligently on your behalf.

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

Dr. Pettit’s Tips for Healthy Living

Nathan J. Pettit, DMD, MSD

SugarJust a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. Why do we love sugar? Some of our love for sugar is learned, and some of our preference depends on exposure during developmental years. However, humans also have a deeply set evolutionary reason to favor the tastes of foods with sugar, salt, and fat. The reason is survival. Our bodies would not function long without the much needed resource of calories, energy, and salt balance to power our bodies. In our primal state, it was very important for us to consume foods with enough energy to keep us alive. So when did sugar become a problem?

Agricultural and chemical advances paved a way for sugar to become a major part of general human consumption beginning in the mid-17th century. It only got worse as further developments occurred. Our modern diet today frequently includes 25% of our calories from added sugar alone! Were our bodies designed to process so much refined sugar? The sugar industry would like us to think there is nothing wrong with added sugar. Recent reports revealed that in the 1960s, the leading sugar industry poured lots of money into research, “proving” fats and cholesterol were the main issue with our modern health problems, not sugar. Most consumers were unaware of the refined sugar being added ubiquitously to our diets. It was only a matter of time before our modern health problems from heavy sugar loading became evident.

Most health experts agree that sugar in moderation is not a problem. But what happens when we consume too much? Added sugar adds calories without any nutritive benefit. We know the effect of sugar on the teeth. The fructose-rich calories we get from added sugar can also burden our liver, promoting conversion of excess sugar into fatty tissue. In our metabolism, our cells can become less responsive to insulin, promoting diabetes or metabolic syndrome. This insulin resistance may be one of the reasons those with high sugar diets have a higher risk of developing cancer. Cholesterol levels have been linked with sugar consumption, along with heart disease and obesity. Sugar affects the brain in a way that may lead to addiction and withdrawal. In addition, sugars promote inflammation and pain. There are many reasons to reign in and take control of your sugar consumption. It all begins by becoming aware. Thankfully, next year food labels will be required to show how many “added sugars” are in a product, underneath the “total sugars” line that’s already there. The current recommendation for added sugar intake is no more than 25 grams per day for women and 36 grams per day for men. This Halloween, you can give your health a boost by limiting sugar consumption and replacing some of that Halloween candy with other naturally sweet and wholesome foods.

Nathan J. Pettit, DMD, MSD

3 Things You Can Do To Stay Healthy This Fall


There are a lot of spooky things associated with October, but the scariest thought of all is the start of cold and flu season. Throw in fall allergies and it’s no surprise TMD problems get worse this time of year for many people.

Illness and allergies that affect the sinuses can lead to extra pressure in regions where TMD is already creating discomfort. Right now is the time to take preventative measures to avoid problems before, during and after the holidays.

Get a Flu Shot – Every year the flu vaccine is tweaked to combat the most common strains that currently pose the biggest threat. Immunologists recently told journalists at NPR that October to early November is the best time for people over 65 to get a flu shot. You’ll be covered before the season really sets in and the vaccine will last you through the spring.

Watch Out for Ragweed – The #1 allergen during the fall is ragweed pollen, and most people that get hit with spring allergies could be susceptible. Ragweed starts to produce pollen in August and keeps going until the first freeze. In Houston that means ragweed can be a problem for months. Each morning check the pollen counts. If ragweed or weed pollens are in the medium to high range, limit the time you spend outdoors.

Wash Your Hands Regularly – Colds can spread quickly in the first three days a person is sick. Most of the nasty virus grows in the nose, but it doesn’t stay there. Every time a person wipes or blows their nose germs get on their hands. If the person doesn’t wash their hands, then touches a communal surface the germs get spread even further. That’s why doctors recommend frequent hand washing during the cold and flu season. This one preventative measure is often all it takes to avoid getting sick.

Quick Tip: Using Heat Therapy

Now that it’s cooling off outside, heat therapy for TMJ pain can be even more relaxing and beneficial. The great thing about heat therapy is it can prevent soreness and pain before it happens. The secret is to add a little moisture to the mix.

Moist heat therapy is ideal for relaxing muscles that are tensing up. Many of our TMJ patients find that placing a moist heating pad under the chin and pulling the ends up over the sides of the face provides the most relief. You can also use a hot water bottle wrapped in a moist rag, but you’ll be limited to treating one area at a time. A more versatile homemade option is filling a tube sock with uncooked rice and tying it at the top. Microwave the sock for 30 seconds to a minute until it’s the right temperature.

No matter what option you choose to use, always test the temperature first before applying moist heat. The pad should be warm to the touch but not uncomfortably hot. Keep the heating pad in place for 5-20 minutes to increase blood flow and reduce pain.


Enjoy Peanut Butter Cups With Tons of Flavor & Less Sugar

Creamy peanut butter in white bowl

This time of year it’s really hard not to overindulge in added sugar. Sweets and treats are everywhere leading up to the Halloween holiday. One of the most popular confections is peanut butter cups. It’s a delicious combination of sweet and salty with flavors that complement each other very well.

However, there’s one problem – a standard two-pack of Reese’s peanut butter cups has 21 grams of sugar. Five of the miniature cups have 23 grams of sugar. Even worse is the fact that it’s refined sugar.

But you don’t have to forgo peanut butter cups this Halloween when you make a healthier version at home. Each one of these homemade peanut butter cups only has about 5 grams of sugar.

1 bag of dark chocolate Hersey’s Kisses
1 jar of raw almond butter or all-natural peanut butter


  • Put 12 non-stick muffin wrappers in a muffin pan.
  • Melt 12 of the chocolate pieces and pour enough in each wrapper to cover the bottom.
  • Put the pan in the freezer for a few minutes until the chocolate hardens.
  • Next, top each chocolate-coated wrapper with a half tablespoon of the almond butter or peanut butter. Spread the butter so the top is flat rather than rounded.
  • Melt 12 more pieces of chocolate then pour the melted chocolate over the nutty filling.
  • Pop the pan back in the freezer for a few minutes until the chocolate on top hardens.

In less than half an hour you can make your own peanut butter cups that are filled with healthy antioxidants and low in sugar!

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