Few people – if any – really look forward to a visit to the dentist; as activities go, it's pretty far from settling down with a good book or having afternoon tea. But despite that, most people just get on with it – after all, it's usually unlikely that anything unpleasant will happen, and the appointment will be over with quickly, leaving you to enjoy the rest of your day.

For some, however, dental fear is a serious problem. Because regular dentist check-ups are an essential part of preventative oral care, anxiety that's severe enough to stop people from going can lead to poor dental health.

If the thought of visiting a dentist fills you with fear, try some of these tips to get over the anxiety.

Talk to a dentist

Even this is a terrifying idea for some people, but it should be the first step you take if you're able to. Dentists are used to anxious patients, and they have many methods for making people feel calmer and more positive about dental treatment. Talk to the reception staff about your fears and see if they're able to arrange a chat with a dentist. You're not under any obligation to go any further than that, and remembering you're in control can work wonders.

Remember that dentistry has changed

Some people have unpleasant memories of dentist offices in years past, but the industry has changed since then. If you think of dentists as serious, unfriendly people with little understanding of the worries people have, then you're sure to be surprised how different things are nowadays.

Understand your fear

Working out why you feel the way you do can help you take charge. If you had a bad experience as a child, try to understand that whatever happened isn't going to happen again. If you're scared of having a lot of treatment done, realise that putting off a dental check makes this even more likely. Whatever the cause, try to understand it and work through it.

Practice meditation

Meditation techniques are an excellent way to calm the mind and ease your worries. You can use them even during the appointment to keep yourself feeling better by taking your mind off what's happening, and many people have had success with this.

If all else fails, talk to a doctor

If you're unable to control your fears, you may have an underlying anxiety problem that can be resolved through medical treatments. If you notice yourself getting anxious in other situations, too, this is especially likely. Let your doctor know what's going on and they'll be able to help you.