Dr. Kami Hoss is a member of the American Association of Orthodontists, California Association of Orthodontists, World Federation of Orthodontists, and American Dental Association.

Let’s be honest: going to the dentist is nobody’s favorite pastime. However, if you want to fight your hardest against cavities and tooth disease and keep your pearly whites sparkling for years to come, then semi-annual trips to the dentist are just a part of life that you have to learn to accept. If you truly hate visiting the dentist, dreading — and often cancelling — your appointments, follow these 6 tips to help you overcome your fear of the dentist.

1. Let the team know.

Before you have an anxiety attack in the dental chair, let the dentist, hygienists, and any other relevant personnel know before your appointment begin that you have some fear about dental appointments and often experience anxiety during visits. This way, they can not only prepare themselves, but can also take any precautions and use any tools at their disposal to help you.

2. Use the buddy system.

Whenever possible, bring a friend along with you to your appointment. Having someone you know and trust there alongside you can ease your fear and make you feel less alone and vulnerable.

3. Watch some TV.

In most dental exam rooms, there is a TV in some part of the room, visible from the dental chair. Ask the staff if you can turn to your favorite station or if there’s a way you can play a movie or show that will keep you distracted from what’s happening in the room.

4. Talk your way through it.

For some people, the major cause of anxiety when visiting the dentist is not knowing what’s happening during the exam or any procedures. Talk to your dentist and your hygienists beforehand and see if they can walk you through each step of the process. Have them explain things to you before and while they’re doing them so that the fear of the unknown is greatly reduced.

5. Be prepared.

If you hate visiting the dentist because you despise having your teeth cleaned, or if you hate having your gums scraped or flossed, the best preparation for the appointment that you can have is taking the best care of your teeth that you possibly can throughout the year so that when it comes time for the dentist, your teeth will already be tip-top shape and will need far less vigorous cleaning.

6. Explore sedation options.

If all else fails, or if overcoming your fear isn’t a plausible solution for you, there are sedation dentistry options available for those whose fears are standing in the way of their health. Do your research and talk to your dentist to determine if these options are right for you.

Read more on Dr. Kami Hoss pages.