Q: "I've been having problems with my teeth, and I think I may have periodontal disease. What causes this, and how can it be prevented?"

A: Periodontal disease is the result of unhealthy bacteria taking residence in your gums and causing a cascade of reactions. Plaque that's not regularly removed can harden and attach to the roots of your teeth. Your body views this plaque as an invader and sends out cells to fight it. As a result of the reaction your body has to the bacteria, your gums get puffy, inflamed, and may bleed.

To make matters worse, chronic inflammation can lead to bone and gum loss. What's more, inflammation and periodontal disease have even been linked to an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, and premature births.

The best way to prevent periodontal disease is to practice good home care and see your dentist regularly. To that end, make sure to brush your teeth with a soft-bristle brush at least twice a day, don't forget to floss, and be sure to see your dentist a minimum of twice a year.

Dr. Jablow, DDS, is one of the fastest-rising stars in her field and is a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and the American Dental Association. As an authority on dental, cosmetic, and restorative procedures, she is a regular contributor and expert for CBS; has been featured on ABC News and the WB11 Morning Show; and has appeared in New York Magazine, Financial Times, and Forbes. Jablow earned her DDS while being awarded a full academic scholarship at NYU Dental School and joined New York City's Park 56 Dental Group in 2005.