By Jack Roth
Periodontist Dr. Lee Sheldon has provided comprehensive implant, periodontal and full-mouth rehabilitation dental services to area residents for more than 30 years. By. Jack Roth
For Dr. Lee Sheldon, the journey to becoming a periodontist was one that included a few right turns. As a junior in college, he was studying pre-med when he realized he did not want to be a physician. Later that semester, he went to New York University with a friend who was having his interview for NYU dental school. Experiencing the dental school first-hand, Dr. Sheldon realized it was what he wanted to do. “I loved the idea of working with dentists and their patients and making their experiences comfortable as well as predictable, and I still do.” he said.
Dr. Sheldon went on to graduate from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in 1975. He received additional training in a dental general practice residency as a captain at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and later served as a dental officer at the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania.
“When I graduated dental school and went into the Army, I had a great opportunity working under the wing of specialists at Fort Sill,” he explained. “I was particularly inspired by a periodontist there and ultimately decided to follow that passion.”
Dr. Sheldon received his certificate as a specialist in periodontics at the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine. His advanced dental education encompassed many formal programs in dental implants, reconstructive dentistry and cosmetics, including extended training at the Medical College of Georgia. “I had great teachers … people who are leaders in the field now,” he said.
"I loved the idea of establishing comforting relationships with patients in what could be a stressful environment, and I still do.” - Dr. Lee Sheldon
State of the Art Practice
In 1980, Dr. Sheldon began his one-doctor periodontal practice in Melbourne. Today, he, along with his general dentist son, Dr. Matt Sheldon, and board-certified periodontist, Dr. Michel Furtado, are part of a full-service practice that includes periodontics, implant dentistry and general dentistry.
“We can control the entire process under one roof, and things run a lot smoother this way,” he said. “We have total control over patient care.”
Dental services include state-of-the-art dental implant treatment, gum disease treatment and full dental rehabilitation. The practice also provides full-service dentistry, including cleanings, fillings, crowns, bridges and cosmetic dentistry, such as porcelain veneers and Invisalign® clear braces, as well as cosmetic gum surgery for gummy smiles or teeth that appear too long.
Dr. Sheldon and his team use state-of-the-art technology for precise, minimally invasive dental implant placement. They also use the most recent breakthroughs in technology to make the patient experience as comfortable and efficient as possible.
The first dentist from Central Florida to use computer-guided surgery for implant placement, Dr. Sheldon was also the first to use the dental endoscope to assist in the effective nonsurgical treatment of gum disease. These innovations have led to the Solid Bite concept, providing beautiful, functional and efficient dental restorations. Using 3D X-rays and 3D imaging technology, Dr. Sheldon, Dr. Sheldon, and Dr. Furtado can plan implant placement ahead of time, reducing chair time as well as surgery. He is also one of only 100 doctors in the U.S who uses the non-surgical Perioscope to treat gum disease. The Perioscope is a periodontal endoscope; a slender camera that is placed into the periodontal pocket. With this instrument, patients can avoid gum surgery in the majority of cases.
“I did periodontal surgery and later learned bone grafting, gum tissue grafting and dental implants, which came out in the 1980s,” explained Sheldon. “The Perioscope came out in the 1998, and for the first time, I was able to see under the gum line without doing surgery. This was a game changer in the treatment of periodontal disease.”
Technology is constantly changing dentistry in every possible area. When Dr. Sheldon first started, dentists were not easily able to identify the bacteria that were responsible for more progressive conditions. “We couldn’t see what bacteria was there,” he said, “but now we can identify the DNA of the bacteria as well as the best treatment for that bacteria, and thus reduce the need for periodontal surgery.”
“It’s really a great atmosphere for everyone, including the patients.” - Dr. Lee Sheldon
Working With Family
When Dr. Matt Sheldon, joined the practice as a general dentist in 2012, the elder Sheldon changed his marketing approach from relying on referrals to direct marketing. It is rather unusual for a periodontist to do so. But patients like the idea of having work done all under one roof rather than going to one office for periodontal and implant treatment and another for the dental restorations.
“The fact that Matt is a talented general dentist has opened doors that I never anticipated,” he acknowledged. “Not only are we making it work, I’m actually speaking to a national audience of periodontists about the benefits of doing so.” So interested have been the periodontists that he has spoken at two national meetings as well as several regional meetings around the country.”
Dr. Sheldon admits he can appreciate that his son looks at things differently as a general dentist. He noted that Matt also has new technologies he can use to better help his patients. “I’m proud and thrilled to be working with Matt,” he said. “A lot of periodontists are jealous of me right now. This is just one more experience to share together.”
And he shares this experience with other family members, as well. In addition to Matt, Sheldon’s wife, Eleanor, is in charge of the practice’s finances. His daughter, Stephanie Wintercorn, is the practice’s marketing manager. “My oldest son, Dan, is a sportscaster in Portland, Oregon, the only one who didn’t catch the dental bug,” Sheldon joked.
When Dr. Furtado joined the practice four years ago, this completed the team. A diplomate of the American Board of Periodontology, Dr. Furtado added computer-guided surgical technology as well as his outstanding surgical skill to complement the team. He now does all of the surgery in the office.
Every Thursday morning, the three doctors are busy at 7 AM, reviewing cases together and taking advantage of each other’s expertise to plan each complex patient. The combination of three viewpoints for every complex case gives the patient a tremendous advantage. “This is the most fun I have had in my entire career,” Sheldon proudly states.
Fully Engaged and Happy
According to Dr. Sheldon, Brevard County has been a great place to have a practice and raise a family. From a business perspective, he has tried to grow with the region and stay active in the community. Dr. Sheldon has served in leadership roles in various dental organizations and was the chairman of the dental department at Holmes Regional Medical Center. He has chaired the Brevard Study Club since 1995, bringing dental continuing education to Brevard County dentists. He was also an associate clinical professor in the University of Florida College of Dentistry’s graduate department of periodontology, where he helped train periodontists of the future. And now, he teaches other periodontists around the country through his training organization, The Institute for Dental Specialists. Dr. Sheldon, Dr. Matt Sheldon and Dr. Furtado have authored a book, “The Ultimate Mouth Manual,” which contains information patients need to make dental decisions in the 21st century.
Perhaps most importantly, everyone in the practice concentrates on ensuring the doctors, staff and patients all have fun in the office. Danyel Joyner, practice manager and IV therapist, has been with the practice for more than 13 years and sets the tone in the office, making sure everyone is always happy. That makes for a happy dental experience as well.
“It’s really a great atmosphere for everyone, including the patients,” affirmed Sheldon. “Dental work can be daunting for patients, but we’ve created a team and an environment that is comfortable, friendly and relaxing.”