Before you go

Schedule smart.

Make your appointment for the time when you're most relaxed, especially if dental work makes you anxious, advises Kimberly Harms, D.D.S., a dentist in Farmington, Minn.

Have a snack.

Eat before your visit (but brush and floss afterward!) to help prevent light-headedness. Also, some dental procedures make it uncomfortable to eat for hours afterward.

During the visit

Speak up.

If drills give you chills, tell your dentist right away, Harms says. Many dentists have headphones for anxious patients so they can relax to music during their exams, and some even offer virtual reality video glasses.

Ask for an oral-cancer exam.

While it's true oral cancer is most common in tobacco users, Harms says it's a good idea to ask your dentist to check your tongue and the insides of your cheeks for suspicious signs.

Brush up on your technique.

Ask your dentist or hygienist to watch you brush and floss your teeth to confirm that you're doing it the correct way.