Two suggestions I don’t see elsewhere in the comments:
- Dental schools often offer reduced rates so that their students have someone to work on, similar to hair stylist schools. They may or may not have the training and experience to deal with anxious patients, though.
- Some practices will zonk you out for treatment. I imagine there’s an extra cost for the sedative, but if it allows them to do a lot of unpleasant work in one go while you’re blissfully unaware, also saving you multiple trips, that’s a win.
Unrelated: Fuck those retainers all the way to Mars. Or at least as far as the box where mine is stored, which may or may not be in the basement.