September 2016 Newsletter

September is in full swing.

Ronald C. Auvenshine, DDS, PhD

Dr. Ronald Auvenshine
Dr. Ronald Auvenshine

School is back in session, football has started both in college and the NFL, and cooler weather is on the horizon. September brings with it a change in season and somewhat of a reprieve from the hot temperatures that we have experienced this summer. Hopefully, we will be able to dodge a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, but we will see as time progresses.

I like September because it reminds me of the beginning of school. When I was in elementary, junior high, and high school our classes began the Tuesday after Labor Day. Therefore, September brings with it the smell of new clothes, new books, and the smells of buildings that have been closed up for three months.

September will be another busy month for us here at MedCenter TMJ. I am looking forward to September 23rd because I have been invited to speak at the LSU School of Dentistry Alumni Meeting. This marks the 40th year since I received my PhD from LSU Medical School. As a Postdoctoral Fellow, I taught in the Department of Anatomy in both the medical and dental schools. Following my graduation from the PhD program in 1976, I joined the faculty at LSU School of Dentistry with appointments in both the Departments of Anatomy and Restorative Dentistry. It was during those formative years at LSU that I solidified my career goals in dentistry. Following two years of frustration within the world of academia, I chose to leave New Orleans and come to Houston where I set up my practice treating TMD and Orofacial Pain.

The topic which I have chosen for the alumni meeting is entitled “Facts, Fads, and Fallacies: Things I have learned in 40 years of practice.” This lecture is intended to be a review of trends that I have seen come and go within the field of TMD and Orofacial Pain. There have been several philosophies that have gained prominence within the field of TMD. I would like to say that we are less confused now than 40 years ago. However, there are still issues of disagreement. One of these issues is an ongoing study of the validity and specificity of treatment modalities. Currently I am working with the Dean at LSU School of Dentistry to establish an endowment fund for an ongoing program of research along with the establishment of a residency program in Orofacial Pain and TMD at LSU. We will create this program in the name of Dr. Parker Mahan, the professor who trained me.

At the end of the month, I will enjoy a few days of retreat with my brother and sister in Palm Springs, California. For the past eight years, we have taken our vacation together and have traveled to various locations, but our favorite is Palm Springs. My brother and I are avid golfers so we will spend several days enjoying the sites around Palm Springs and playing golf together on some of the most beautiful courses in the United States. This will give me needed refreshment due to the fact that it has been a very busy summer, with little time to rest from our workload.

Our commitment at MedCenter TMJ, is that we will continue to seek, search, and develop a new techniques and programs for achieving the most effective treatment for our patients who suffer from the pain and discomfort of problems of the temporomandibular joint and associated nerves. My commitment has a track record of over 40 years and Dr. Pettit is equally enthusiastic about continuing excellence in care to you, our patient. You are our greatest asset and we will continue to work to honor the trust you have placed in us. We appreciate you greatly.

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

Dr. Pettit’s Tip for Healthy Living

Nathan J. Pettit, DMD, MSD

Dr. Nathan Pettit
Dr. Nathan Pettit

This month, I want to respond to a recent news release which has created quite the stir in the dental hygiene world. I’m referring to the Associated Press release of a report stating that flossing has no proven benefits. In case you have been wondering where we stand on flossing, let me be clear. Flossing correctly has tremendous benefits.

It concerns me that national news is releasing blanket statements based on limited review, without providing context or citing the studies reviewed. An article of this quality in a peer reviewed journal would be thrown out. The news releases from this AP report target the emotion of the reader, trying to create controversy, draw attention, and enlist readers. They have been very successful at this.

Basic microbiology demonstrates the importance of disrupting bacterial layers adhered to tooth surfaces, especially in cavity prevention and in periodontal inflammation. These are disease processes well understood by the scientific community.

Hygiene is still important, and no-one is questioning whether brushing your teeth is beneficial. The question is, does flossing give any added benefit to brushing your teeth? Studies in twins* have shown that flossing greatly reduces the levels of bacteria which cause cavities and periodontal disease. Still, there aren’t very many well controlled randomized trials demonstrating clinical effect.

One reason science hasn’t invested resources into answering this question is probably because it is a matter of common sense. As one hygienist has commented**, we don’t see any scientific articles backing up the efficacy of toilet paper. The department of Health and Human Services and Agriculture has not given us recommendations on the matter, and if said toilet paper were to be used incorrectly, the research would probably show it is ineffective as well. But do we still use it? Of course!

The truth is, flossing probably isn’t very beneficial to many of us. The reason is due to incorrect technique. As one study shows*, being flossed regularly by a dental professional makes a huge difference, particularly when it comes to cavity prevention between your teeth. However, children in this study who flossed on their own were not statistically any better off in protecting from cavities than those who didn’t floss at all. So even if you floss at home, if you aren’t doing it right, it won’t do you much good. Discuss flossing at your next dental cleaning with your hygienist!

At Medcenter TMJ, we are interested in the health of your jaws and mouth. Please ask our staff about flossing tips and techniques. We want to be sure you are effective with your home oral hygiene. We encourage you to continue striving for excellent oral hygiene, as this will only support the health of your TMJ.

*Corby et al. Treatment outcomes of dental flossing in twins: molecular analysis of the interproximal microflora. J Periodontol. 2008 Aug;79(8):1426-33.

**Kara Vavrosky, RDH. Is the Associated Press right? Response to the AP regarding the benefits of flossing.Dental Products Report.

***Hujoel  et al. Dental flossing and interproximal caries: a systematic review. J Dent Res. 2006 Apr;85(4):298-305.

Nathan J. Pettit, DMD, MSD

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The Art of Reading Relaxation


A study from the University of Sussex has shown that the quickest way to distress and relax is to read. However, in today’s busy world the idea of settling down with a good book seems like a pipe dream. But here’s the good news – it only takes six minutes to feel the relaxing effects of reading!

Use these tips to slip away from the worries of the world and get lost in a good story.

Pick Your Favorite Reading Material – The study noted above also found that it doesn’t matter what type of material you read. As long as you enjoy it that’s all that matters.

Find a Quiet Spot – The one thing that can destroy a relaxing read is noise. If you can’t find a place that’s quiet use noise-cancelling headphones to drown out distracting sounds.

Give Yourself 10 Minutes in the Morning – Once the day is underway it’s hard to find time for a breather. Instead try setting your alarm 10 minutes earlier than normal and start your day with a short reading session.


Watch Out for These Fall Allergens


The spring is known as the allergy season, but fall has its fair share of allergens. Allergies share many of the same symptoms as TMD, and they tend to affect the same regions of the body. There have also been links between allergies and the development of TMD in children.

Since allergies can make TMD symptoms worse, it’s important to know what to watch out for when fall allergens are in the air.

  • Ragweed –This allergen is abundant from August through October.
  • Mold – During the rainy days of fall mold can grow in damp piles of leaves.
  • Pollen – Male trees that release pollen let loose in the fall.

Fall is unique in that ragweed affects almost the entire nation. Even if you don’t live where the ragweed grows it can travel for hundreds of miles. If you have moderate to severe allergies you may want to consider wearing a facemask while working in the yard, especially when you’re raking.


Enjoy a Chocolate Honey Milkshake This September

It’s Honey Month and Chocolate Milkshake Day on the September 12th so we thought we’d double dip with this month’s recipe. The great thing about this chocolate honey milkshake is you can use any type of milk you want!

Chocolate milk in a jar on wooden backgroundINGREDIENTS:

  • ½ cup of milk (cow, almond, coconut – it’s up to you)
  • 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 teaspoons of honey


Put all ingredients into the blender and blend on med-high until you get the desired consistency. It really doesn’t get any easier than that. More or less honey can be added depending on how sweet you want your milkshake to be.

Alternative Option: Add a tablespoon or two of smooth peanut butter for added protein and flavor.

Enjoy your healthy milkshake for breakfast while you read and relax!

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