If you're like many people, a trip to the dentist can provoke a bit of anxiety. While the consequences of not tending to dental problems can actually be far worse than any imagined trauma in the dental chair, it's easy to forget that in the moment. Here are six tips to help you relax and turn any dental appointment into a routine event.

Find the Right Dentist

Many people forget that they have the option to find a new dentist if they are not happy with their current one. Just because one practitioner works for your co-worker or your spouse, it doesn't necessarily mean that's the dentist for you.

Using any insurance guidelines, do a little research by phone and Internet to find a dentist who suits your personal needs. These days many dentists advertise special techniques to help patients with dental anxiety, including less invasive procedures and sleep dentistry. Also, dentists who work with children tend to have good "bedside" manners, as they often have to assuage the fears of these young patients. Smile Designers Family Dentistry is a local dentist you can try.

Schedule at the Most Optimal Time

Be sure to schedule your appointment for a time when you are at your best. Making an appointment in the late afternoon, for example, could have you arriving stressed after a day of work and rush hour traffic. It could also mean a longer wait, as many health professionals get behind in their appointments as the day goes on.

Conversely, some people find their gag reflex is worse early in the morning, which can make any dental procedure unpleasant. Find a time when you can be relaxed and unhurried for the best start to your dental experience.

Know the Details Ahead of Time

Often fears about dental procedures stem from the unknown. Ask your dentist ahead of time to explain exactly what will happen at your appointment, so you are prepared. Inquire about anesthesia options and analgesia, so you can rest assured you will not have any undue pain.

Employ Mental Imagery

Once you know what to expect at your appointment, use mental imagery to imagine yourself sailing through the appointment with ease. Mental imagery--like watching a movie in your mind--is a technique used with great success by world class athletes to help improve performance.

Use Distractions

Sometimes taking your mind off what is happening in the dentist's chair can be all you need to relax. If your dentist has TV, ask if you can use it, or try wearing headphones and listening to your favorite music. A lot of people find the sound of dental tools more alarming than other parts of their procedures, so drowning them out can be very helpful.

Give Yourself a Reward

Before your appointment, set up a little reward for yourself, whether that's a new book, a massage, or a ticket to the latest blockbuster movie. Keep your mind focused on your reward during your appointment and imagine the feeling of victory you'll have once you have earned it.

The dentist doesn't have to be any more anxiety causing than going to the grocery store. By using a few of the tricks above, you can find your appointment flies by, and you have no qualms about scheduling the next one.