Periodontal Disease – Truths and Misconceptions

Article by Dr. Lee Sheldon

Here’s the misconception. You or your dentist missed something, so as a result you now have a disease. Could that be true? Only if you believe that people get heart attacks because their doctors miss something or people get cancer because their doctors miss something, or asthma or Alzheimer's, etc.

The fact is that periodontal disease (gum disease) falls into a class of diseases known as chronic degenerative disease. Chronic means that it’s continuing. Degenerative means that it’s breaking down something. And that’s what’s happening. The critical attachment fibers between your teeth and your bone are breaking down.

Some of the factors that cause periodontal disease

Bacterial plaque

That’s the soft bacteria that grows on the teeth. It’s there whether we eat or not. And it needs to be removed at least once every twenty four hours. That’s your job and the better that you do your job, the better the control of this factor of the disease.


That’s hardened plaque that migrates below the gumline. It’s rough and accumulates more plaque, causing more loss of bone support. Why? The bone doesn’t want to be anywhere near the plaque and calculus. Calculus can be removed only by a dentist or dental hygienist.

Bad diet

There are so many bad foods that we eat. They are associated with all of the chronic degenerative diseases. The best part of our diets are a large variety of fresh fruits and fresh vegetables. The larger the variety the better.

The World Health Organization states flatly that 85% of cancers can be avoided and half are caused by nutritional deficiencies. Five to nine or more servings of fruits and vegetables are the standard way to protect yourself from any chronic degenerative disease, including periodontal disease.


People are genetically predisposed to certain diseases. But genetic predisposition does not mean genetic expression. If you do good things for yourself, you won’t likely get the disease.


Yes, we do see that more smokers have periodontal disease than non-smokers by a wide margin. A recent study shows that the most periodontally-damaging bacteria flourish in the mouth of a smoker.

Effectively treating gum disease

As you have read, it isn’t just one factor at all that causes periodontal disease and therefore the best treatment for the disease addresses all of the above factors.

There are also times when a laboratory study of your bacteria is necessary because periodontal disease can be caused by one or a combination of 11 different types of bacteria. Identification of the bacteria gives you a chance to have the right antibiotic to kill that bacteria.

With the right combination of diagnosis, coaching, professional instrumentation, and diet, you too can save your teeth. The earlier you do it, the better the opportunity.