According to the Journal of Dental Hygiene, roughly 20% of adults suffer from dental anxiety. Generally speaking, this fear is more distressing than it is debilitating for most people. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t severe cases out there. In fact, it may actually be more common than you might expect. If you have difficulty feeling relaxed and at ease at the thought of visiting a dentist, keep reading. Because this article is going to share 6 tips on how to overcome dental anxiety.

1. Research Your Dentist(s)

Before you commit to a dental clinic, do a little recon on the places that you’re interested in. Ask friends and family about them, check patient reviews, maybe even stop by or personally call them and ask to speak to some of the more seasoned orthodontists. This will allow you to get a feel of the place as well as the dentists themselves. Once you see how nice, friendly, and reassuring they are, you’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll feel about the procedure.

Sometimes, just simply talking to the experts and asking a few basic questions is enough to quell your anxieties. You can express your concerns and get immediate answers to your questions, and this will no doubt help to alleviate some of your worries and apprehensions.

2. Bring a Friend Along

Having a trusted friend or family member by your side will most likely do more for your comfort than anything else. A familiar face is always encouraging as their presence can really help lift your spirits — especially in those moments when your anxiety can seem overwhelming.

Don’t go it alone; reach out to someone you trust and ask them to come along with you. You’ll feel more confident, and more than likely, you’ll realize that the visit wasn’t nearly as bad as your fears made it out to be.

3. Distraction

Many dentists use this concept when it comes to dealing with the children who visit their clinic. They distract them with toys, games, TV, etc, as it helps to alleviate their tension and trepidation. You can use this same strategy while you wait to be seen. Listen to music or podcasts from your phone, see what movie selections the clinic offers, or sift through the TV programs. All of these things can be great for helping you settle your nerves and calm your anxiety.

4. Relax Yourself

The best way to quell anxieties is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Prior to going to your dentist appointment, engage in some mindful practices to help get you in the right frame of mind. Do some deep breathing meditation to assist with relaxation, try some yoga poses to relieve stress and tension in the body, even a calm walk or light jog can be very cathartic.

While you’re being seen by the dentist, you can do your breathing exercises to calm yourself, all without the dentist even being aware of it. Taking those deep breaths while being conscious of each inhale and exhale will do wonders for you while the dentist works his magic.

5. Include Intermissions

Dentists are familiar with nervous patients, so requesting intermediate breaks during your visit is a lot more commonplace than you may think. If at any point you feel like you need to slow down to regain your emotional footing — just ask, your orthodontist will happily oblige. Don’t be afraid to notify them when you need these breaks. Not only will they be glad to do it, but you’ll feel more relaxed and comfortable as a result.

6. Be Mindful of Your Oral Hygiene

It seems like common sense; if you want to avoid the dentist, then take care of your oral hygiene, right? But this is in exact opposition to what a lot of us do. The more you can take care of your overall oral health (brushing, flossing, eating right, etc), the less of a need there is to visit the dentist.

Now, it doesn’t mean that you can completely avoid an orthodontist visit — checkups will be required from time to time. However, it will make the trips less frequent, and when you do go, you’ll find that less needs to be done, and the visits will be more pleasant.