October Newsletter

October is upon us!

Ronald C. Auvenshine, DDS, PhD

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

My, how this year has flown by! It’s been a very significant year for me so far, recovering from my rotator cuff surgery. But now it appears that the majority of my shoulder restoration is complete. I have been released from both the surgeon and physical therapist and I continue to do my daily exercises and frequent trips to the gym. I am playing golf again but only at half swing, not full swing. I don’t know when I will be able to return to a full swing, but I am having fun in my off hours.

October is one of my most favorite months of the year. It is a time when we think of harvest, cooler weather, and Halloween. It is a month where Houston is a most enjoyable place to live. We have completed the hot months of summer with its increased humidity, and we look forward to cooler weather.

Dr. Pettit and I have a very significant speaking engagement in Orlando, Florida on October 18th. We will be speaking to the American Academy of Maxillofacial Prosthodontics. This is a special group of highly trained dentists who treat very complex restorative cases. We have been invited to speak on the causes, diagnosis, and management of temporomandibular disorders. Our contact for this group has been Dr. Chambers at M.D. Anderson hospital. Dr. Chambers and his group reconstruct dentitions as well as faces of cancer patients. I have been a consultant for Dr. Chambers for a number of years and he has trained many of the residents that I have taught at the VA hospital. I thoroughly enjoy my association with Dr. Chambers and look forward to this opportunity to present to his group. Dr. Pettit has also been invited to speak on the subject of the treatment options for cancer patients who suffer symptoms of TMD.

In the last week of October, Dr. Pettit will be back in Orlando to take his boards in prosthodontics. Once you have completed a residency program, you are eligible to take the boards in that specialty so that you may attain the status of “board-certified.” I am very proud of Dr. Pettit. This examination will be written and oral as well as the presentation of two cases that he has completed throughout his training at the VA hospital. To be able to complete a full mouth case and present that case to a board of examiners is a very tenuous task and requires much preparation. Dr. Pettit has successfully completed every task that he has been presented with and I’m certain that he will successfully pass these boards. Rarely do we have a resident, through the program at the VA hospital, who completes both his Masters degree and becomes board-certified. It’s usually one or the other. Dr. Pettit has achieved both.

I recently taught in a three-day course presented by the American Academy of Craniofacial Pain at their yearly Institute. The Institute consists of four, three-day sessions for a total of 120 hours of continuing education. I teach in Session 1. I thoroughly enjoy my opportunity to speak to young dentists as they prepare their practices for the inclusion of TMD and orofacial pain patients. This is now my seventh year to present to the institute. I always learn so much from my association with these young dentists. I am always looking for new techniques and new instrumentation so that we can provide up-to-date care for our patients. This teaching opportunity at the Institute offers me that privilege.

As you can see we are very busy at MedCenter TMJ. We are constantly searching for better ways to serve you. Our well-trained staff continues their personal training and search for polishing our service skills. Your well-being is our number one objective. We will continue to do everything within our power to make sure that your experience here at MedCenter TMJ is of the latest techniques, the newest equipment, and the friendliest service. You are our greatest asset and we will continue to strive to earn your favor.

Ronald C. Auvenshine, DDS, PhD

Dr. Pettit’s Tips for Healthy Living

Nathan J. Pettit, DMD, MSD

fresh berriesAs a part of the MedCenter TMJ Newsletter, we like to include a tip for healthy living. Healthy living begins with healthy eating.  In this month’s edition, I want to highlight a recent scientific discovery from a group of researchers in Canada that has a direct application to your dental health and your diet.

We have stressed the importance of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet before. One of my favorite fruits has always been berries, almost any kind.  I love to eat them fresh, mixed in a salad, mixed in with oatmeal or cereal, or baked into a pie.  I was delighted to see an article published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that has given me even more reason to recommend berries as a healthy treat. Researchers have identified an extract from wild blueberries that can prevent the formation of plaque on your teeth!

Plaque is a film that certain bacteria form on our teeth and along our gums when we don’t brush or floss. Plaque then aids the growth of additional bacteria that causes our gums to become inflamed and painful. If left untreated, plaque can lead to recession of your gums, loss of bony support of the tooth, or even tooth cavities. Fighting plaque is the main goal of dental hygiene. What if certain foods could help us fight plaque?

Apparently, blueberries contain certain natural chemicals (phenolic acids and flavonoids) which hinder the growth of plaque-forming bacteria. These extracts also appear to decrease inflammation. The finding was significant enough that companies are now looking to use blueberry extracts in dental offices to help treat periodontal disease! Blueberries have previously been shown to provide other health benefits as well.

At Medcenter TMJ, we want our patients to be aware of foods that may strain and hurt the jaw joint. Some berries contain hard seeds, which if not chewed carefully, can aggravate your TMJ. Luckily, blueberry seeds are so small they are imperceptible when we eat them. They pose little risk for jaw discomfort. So go ahead, try throwing some blueberries into your next meal and see what your dentist has to say at your next dental cleaning!

Nathan J. Pettit, DMD, MSD

Battling Two Medical Issues at Once

It’s bad enough having to battle one medical issue let alone two at the same time. The majority of TMD patients are women (80-90%), so it’s no surprise that a fair number of breast cancer patients have to battle both. The conditions are so common that BreastCancer.org has a discussion board devoted to the topic of managing TMJ while treating and recovering from breast cancer.

During Breast Cancer Awareness Month we’d like to take a minute to address this concern and the importance of managing multiple ailments simultaneously. It isn’t uncommon for breast cancer patients to experience a TMD flare up when they undergo treatment. Some doctors believe that chemotherapy can cause or worsen TMD symptoms; however, research is still needed to verify if there is any validity to the theory. It is known that chemotherapy can have adverse side effects on the mouth and teeth, which could negatively impact the TMJ. That is why it’s recommended that cancer patients see their dentists and address issues before beginning treatment.

One thing is for certain – the stress of battling breast cancer can certainly affect some TMJ sufferers. Stress is often a trigger for TMJ symptoms, especially for patients that grind and clench their teeth. This is often an involuntary reaction that can lead to pain and soreness in the jaw, face, ears, and neck.

It’s important to understand that cancer patients have a variety of TMJ treatment options, many of which are natural and non-invasive so they won’t impact chemotherapy. Dr. Auvenshine and Dr. Pettit will be speaking on this topic later in the month, and we encourage cancer patients to seek out professional help if they already have TMJ pain. With the assistance of an experienced TMD dentist you’ll have one less thing to worry about and can focus on getting healthy once again.

hands holding pink breast cancer awareness ribbon


Have a Healthy Halloween With Blueberry Eyeballs!

Halloween is a time when sugar and chocolate flow freely, but it’s also an opportunity to get creative with fruit concoctions. As Dr. Pettit noted, fruit is an essential part of your diet that provides a source of healthy sugar and fiber. Luckily, many fruits are also soft and easy on the TMJ.

Blueberries are a key ingredient in a number of Halloween recipes including this frighteningly good treat from Nom Nom Paleo. Plaque-fighting blueberries are used to create the pupil of “eyeballs” that sit in the center of longans. Fun fact: longan is Chinese for dragon eye, because once peeled the fruit resembles an eyeball.

This eye-catching recipe couldn’t be easier to make, and fits right into National Vegetarian Month. It’s one Halloween appetizer that everyone can enjoy!Have a Healthy Halloween With Blueberry Eyeballs!


1 cup of Blueberries
2 pounds fresh longans
1 bag of frozen mixed red berries


  • Peel the longans. Start at the stem to make the skin removal easier.
  • Carefully cut the longans in half and remove the seed in the middle of the fruit.
  • Mix the frozen berries in a blender until the mixture is very smooth.
  • Pour the “bloody” puree onto a plate with a decent lip.
  • Wash the blueberries and place a single berry in the middle of each longan half.
  • Finally, carefully place your “eyeballs” in the blood red puree.

In about 30 minutes you’ll have a creepy, creative Halloween dish that’s super healthy and can help keep your teeth healthy!


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