If you are like many people, a visit to the dentist is one of the most painful and stressful appointments that you endure, and you have to go twice a year. Whether it is being nervous about the possibility of a cavity or having fear of the drill, too many people skip their important dental visits out of anxiety. However, ignoring
these appointments can damage more than just your oral health; poor dental care can lead to infections, strokes and heart disease. You can avoid a painful dental visit and smile more with just a few careful methods.

1. Find a dental team you can trust.
Trusting your dental team will go a long way toward easing your fears and your pain. Because anxieties are related to all different fears, you need to find a professional who is able to read your cues, answer your questions and assuage your concerns. If you do not trust the hands that are in your mouth, you will not be able to get through the appointment painlessly.

2. Prepare a list of questions to ease your concerns.
If you have truly found a professional that you trust, take some time to prepare a list of questions that will help you feel more at ease. Think deeply about your fears and concerns about your visit, and ask for clarification on any procedures. A few common questions that might lessen your anxiety include:
• Can you please explain to me what you are doing with my teeth?
• What does that (tool) do?
• How could I improve my oral hygiene?
• Why is it necessary to do ____ (procedure)?
• What are my options for that tooth?
• If I get nervous, what signal can I give you to stop?

3. Consider some meditation before your appointment.
Although meditation, essential oils and deep breathing are not for everyone, these can be helpful calming techniques for many people before a dental visit. Try dabbing a little chamomile or lavender essential oil on your temples or at your pulse points for relaxation, or use a heated neck wrap or squeezable stress ball before and during your appointment. While you are in the office chair, take care to breath slowly and deeply through your diaphragm to help counteract the adrenaline that may be coursing through your body. Clear your mind and think happy thoughts; try to smile throughout the procedure to keep your spirits up.

4. Keep your regular appointments.
Going to the dentist regularly will prevent many problems with your teeth. For example, you will have fewer cavities and be less likely to require complex dental work, such as a root canal. If you do not keep your appointments, you are more at risk for larger problems and more extensive procedures that will be more nerve-wracking. Not only will frequently cancelling or rescheduling appointments result in poor oral health, but it will also add to your anxiety. The longer you put off your visit, the more worked up you will become about it when you finally keep your appointment. Schedule the visit, put it on your calendar and make it a point to attend on time.

5. Practice good oral health every day.
Many people are tempted to attack their teeth with extra vigor right before an appointment. However, aggressively brushing a tooth that seems discolored or flossing until your gums bleed is not a good idea. While you may be worried that your hygienist or the dentist will judge the state of your mouth poorly at your visit, last minute attacks on a tooth will be obvious to the oral professionals, and you will be doing more harm than good. Make sure that you are brushing at least twice a day, flossing and using a mouthwash rinse to keep your mouth happy and your smile beautiful.

A dental visit does not have to be painful. With the proper care and preparation, you can have a calm and comfortable appointment.