I am very fortunate to be in my 30s and not possess a single cavity (hear that? that's me knocking on my dining table). My semi-annual trips to Gentle Dental have had their share of ups and downs, but I've managed to conquer some of the anxiety that comes with them. Hope this helps you too.
Piece of advice (poa) #1 - Don't wear white.
When you're receiving that teeth cleaning (or deep cleaning, depending on who you are), stuff is flying. Water, cleaner, bits of food painfully scraped out. You name it. If you value that t-shirt or have to be somewhere afterwards, do yourself a favor and wear earth tones, darker clothes, or articles you don't mind getting stained. It reminds me of my first NYC trip. My friend was booking front row tickets to Stomp. The agent informed her to "wear clothing that you wouldn't mind getting wet". Um, yeah.
poa #2 - Bring your iPod.
(or similar mp3 player) My doctor's office is pretty sweet in that they have both radio music wafting throughout *and* movies playing in each patient room. None of that elevator/Muzak noise. I find myself wanting to watch the ending of a film all the time. However, when they get started on my chompers, nothing is more effective at drowning them out than some reliable tunes. And shutting your eyes.
poa #3 - Scheduling right after lunch.
You're only as efficient as the people around you. Often times, morning appointments are either running late or emergency drop-ins. Either way they are impeding on your face time with the dentist. Most offices are best to visit right after their lunch hour. Staff is refreshed. Nobody is ahead of you. It's go time. If nothing else, do this one.
poa #4 - Have a place to eat right after.
Now be honest. Do you hold off on eating that next meal until after the appointment? It's normal (unless you're one of those who packs a toothbrush). You may have the urge to visit the nearest drive-thru. If that's the case, go ahead. Make it a reward. As my husband would say, "If you're gonna eat bad, it better taste good". My closest options are a mall food court, Mexican fast food, and a cafe across the street. Gives me something to look forward to after all is said and done.