ORAL infections can affect heart valves.
That is why a dentist has travelled from New Zealand with a group of heart surgeons for a series of surgeries here in Fiji.
Ross Pellow, along with nurses, intensive care specialists, surgeons and physiotherapists, are in the country as part of an initiative by Friends of Fiji Heart Foundation.
The initiative brings specialists from New Zealand to conduct surgeries on Fijian patients with heart conditions.
The group will be based at the Lautoka Hospital over the next couple of weeks.
"We just want to give back to the people and if each one of us can do something small to help our next door neighbour, we can make a difference in both New Zealand and Fiji," Mr Pellow said.
This is his fifth visit to Fiji as part of the mission.
He says his role as a dentist means they have to make sure the dental aspect is taken care of before patients have their heart valves fixed.
"I'm making sure there is no possibility of an infection in future.
"So we are doing a lot of dentistry on these patients before their heart valves are placed in the next few days."
Friends of Fiji Heart Foundation chairman Craig Strong said the mission was very significant for Fijians because many volunteers had to take leave from their workplaces to help out Fijians.
"That to me is a testament to the human spirit," he said.
Those with artificial cardiac pacemakers have been advised to take advantage of the free checks conducted by the cardiac team.
"Those who have undergone this procedure but did not go for annual reviews can do so with the cardiac team," Mr Craig said.
"Patients just need to contact Sister Shobhna on 6660399 at the Lautoka Hospital for appointments."