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We've all been terrified about going to the dentist. The sterilized environment, the array of oral care tools on the side table and the ominous sound of a drill in the room next door can be very intimidating. Thankfully, there are ways that you can prepare for possible stress before you go to your appointment and methods to avoid it once you're sitting in the chair.

When you go in for a check-up or a procedure, ways to avoid fear include:

Deep breathing – Making sure that you keep your breathing under control can make a big difference, as deeper, larger breaths deliver more oxygen throughout your body, helping your muscles and nerves to relax. It also gives you something to focus on once the dentist begins his or her work.

Listening to music – Don't feel like hearing the sounds of people rinsing their mouths, cavities being drilled or the occasional crying child? Bringing along your mp3 player can make a huge difference in tuning out the stressful sounds of the dentists office.

Plan out your visit – Knowledge is half of the battle, as the saying goes, and heading in for an oral care check-up is no different. Part of stress is being afraid of an uncertain future. By mapping out every step and checking with the dentist beforehand about how the visit is going to proceed, you can feel more comfortable by knowing what's coming.

Fear of going to the dentist can be a major impediment to maintaining proper oral hygiene. Another way to avoid problems is by seeking care from a dental professional who has a commitment to gentle family dentistry that helps ensure a peaceful, productive visit.