A. How Gum Disease May Cause Premature Births
In the normal birthing process, the body of the pregnant woman produces certain biological substances or molecules that are derived from the pregnancy tissues and which serve as "regulators" of the different processes involved with giving birth. At the normal time for birth for each woman, the accumulation of the "regulators" then serves as a signal for the beginning of the actual delivery. The body, under normal circumstances, then sends out these biological messages and once enough of these "regulators" reach a critical level, the message has been given for the birth to begin.

How does gum disease alter this normal birthing process?
The very "regulators" which send the "message" that the birth is to begin are also produced by infections elsewhere within the woman's body. These biological "regulators", some of which are called prostaglandins, can be produced by gum disease as well as other diseases.

If a pregnant woman's gum disease is producing these biological "regulators", the amount that builds up from the birth process and the gum disease may reach a "critical level" before the level would have been achieved if the only producer of these "regulators" was the pregnancy experience. This premature arrival at the "critical level" of biological "regulators" may then result in a premature birth -- a premature birth where the gum disease was partly responsible for its occurence.

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