A new study from The Netherlands finds that people with chronic gum disease have a significantly higher rate of heart disease and stroke http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-gums-heart-idUSKCN10Y238. This adds to a growing body of research linking gum, (periodontal), disease to heart disease and strokes. It is significant because it reviewed the health records of over 60,000 patients.
While researchers are not completely sure of how to account for this link, the working theory is that the body reacts to inflammation by elevating certain chemicals in the blood. In the short run, these factors fight inflammation but in the long run can damage vessels in the heart and other organs. The chronic inflammation of gum disease may contribute to these inflammatory factors being constantly elevated.
So while the evidence may not be 100% conclusive, it seems that keeping the teeth and gums clean and healthy, not only improves dental health but general health as well.