THE Ministry of Health has revealed that poor dental hygiene is linked to rheumatic heart disease (RHD).
It also found that Fiji's population had very poor dental health care, saying it was prevalent in the Eastern, Central, Western and Northern divisions.
In 2008 14 children died of RHD while the number increased to 31 in 2009.
Non-communicable disease director Doctor Isimeli Tukuna said: "If you have a heart condition and you don't brush your teeth properly and regularly, there is a possibility you may develop an infection of the heart."
He said once the teeth were affected the level of heart disease would be high and people were more likely to suffer heart attack. "It is also believed that poor dental hygiene among patients of rheumatic heart disease (RHD) increases the risk of developing endocarditis, an infection of the heart caused by a bacteria," he said.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that poor oral and dental health led to infection of leaking valves (regurgitation).
Dr Tukana said an oral health survey of 2004 indicated that 80 per cent of children below the age of five-years suffered tooth decay.
The Health Ministry has put in place strategies specifically for dental caries promoting healthy teeth through "Bula 5, 20 Smile".
"This means children above three years of age should maintain their 20 milk teeth until the age of five," Dr Tukana said.
He said as far as the ministry was concerned the number of children who suffered from tooth decay in 2004 was "alarming".
Fiji Dental Association president Doctor Vikash Singh said a person could not consider him or herself healthy if he or she did not have a healthy mouth.
Dr Singh said government should monitor the sale of junk food in the country.
Meanwhile, the 2011 Oral Health report is being analysed by the Health Ministry and the Fiji National University (FNU).
He said while it was expensive to conduct the oral health survey, they were interested in comparing the figures this year that would determine the action government would take on junk food and fizzy drink advertisements in the media.
"We would like to see government impose higher taxes on frizzy drinks and place a ban on the advertising of junk food," Dr Singh said.