Recently, it has been recognized that oral infection, especially periodontitis, may affect the course and pathogenesis of a number of systemic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, bacterial pneumonia, diabetes mellitus, and low birth weight. The purpose of this review is to evaluate the current status of oral infections, especially periodontitis, as a causal factor for systemic diseases. Three mechanisms or pathways linking oral infections to secondary systemic effects have been proposed: (i) metastatic spread of infection from the oral cavity as a result of transient bacteremia, (ii) metastatic injury from the effects of circulating oral microbial toxins, and (iii) metastatic inflammation caused by immunological injury induced by oral microorganisms. Periodontitis as a major oral infection may affect the host's susceptibility to systemic disease in three ways: by shared risk factors; subgingival biofilms acting as reservoirs of gram-negative bacteria; and the periodontium acting as a reservoir of inflammatory mediators. Proposed evidence and mechanisms of the above odontogenic systemic diseases are given.