Most of us do not focus on dental health as an inseparable part of personal hygiene. And the result is bad breath, tooth decay and a host of other ailments that not only prove embarrassing, but also result in social and psychological problems if unresolved.

Lack of dental hygiene is not just an important aspect of personal hygiene; it is also a health hazard that could cause digestive and post-digestive ailments. Bacteria that thrive on the teeth and gums need to be regularly eliminated.

Brushing your teeth regularly and after each meal is a habit that needs to be cultivated in small children as well as amongst adults. It is also important that you take up to three minutes to brush your teeth, though most often we seem to take only a minute to complete this chore.

Drinking plenty of water helps wash away left-over food particles besides guarding against accentuated bad breath as a result of dryness of the mouth. Water also stimulates flow of saliva which plays a crucial part in keeping the mouth clean and dissolving compounds that cause halitosis or bad breath.

In addition, here are five simple things you could do as part of a regular maintenance drill for your pearls...

1) Chewing sugarless gum will help clean teeth and stimulate saliva flow. However, gum with sugar is not healthy and therefore not recommended by dentists.

2) Check for dental problems at least once a month as this could cause bad breath too. These problems are solved by a visit to the dentist. In any case, make sure you visit one at least once a year to ensure that your teeth are in good shape.

3) Inter dental cleaning is a very important of daily maintenance and flossing is what ensures that left-over food particles do not stay put between teeth and create bad odor. Additionally, it helps remove the plaque from between the teeth and under the gums.

4) Rinse well after every meal - don't depend solely on mouth fresheners. Whenever possible, try to rinse with warm water and salt.

5) Add a few drops of lime juice to a teaspoon of salt. Brush your teeth with it once a week. It will add a shine to your teeth besides keeping your breath clean.