Even with a mouthful of cotton balls and drills, you have a voice with your dentist, so use it. Talk about fears and possible adjustments to curb them. Ask questions. "You shouldn't be afraid to ask questions, and you should really expect to receive good answers," Kohn says. And if the questions go unanswered? Or you feel unwarranted judgement as opposed to information and advice? Switch dentists.
I earn gold stars for my dental hygiene, and I'm in no oral pain. Kudos! Taking care of your teeth is the best way to ward off oral diseases and ailments. But often, the symptoms from the diseases won't be obvious until they've progressed considerably. Cue the medical expert checking for signs and risk factors. Plus, Laughrey says, a professional cleaning is usually leagues more thorough than the brushing you do at home. If you really feel like an oral health superstar – the kind with a toothbrush at the office and a special pride for being cavity-free – then simply ask the dentist if it makes more sense to come in once a year instead of twice.
And why wait until you feel pain to see the doctor? "If you have pain, it's usually too late," Laughrey says. "The definition of preventative care is to find pain ahead of time, and handle it when it's small."