Having worked in dentistry for the past 5+ years, I can vouch for the fact that many, many people have a fear of dental work. For most, it starts with some unpleasant visit in early childhood, leaving subconscious scars. Unfortunately, the fear of pain becomes a self-fulfilling reality.
I frequently receive calls from people who have put off seeing a dentist for years because they are afraid it will "hurt". By the time they finally call, they have multiple problems in their mouths and it really does hurt, both physically and financially.
Modern technology has truly advanced pain-free dentistry. Many procedures can be accomplished with little or no discomfort to the patient. Most dentists offer comfort enhancers such as: N20 (laughing gas), massage chairs, stereo headphones, virtual movies, and even drugs such as Valium and Halcion when necessary.
Speaking as someone who has observed much needless misery over the years, it pays to keep up regular visits to your dentist. Such preventative appointments can avoid uncomfortable and expensive things such as root canal therapy.
If you hate your dentist, ask around among trusted friends, neighbors, and co-workers. There are bad dentists out there, some unethical or unskilled. The best referrals we get is through word-of-mouth. People like and trust our team, so they tell their friends. Also, inquire at to what continuing education requirements your state has. Some states do not require ANY, so look for a dentist who qualifies for membership in such organizations as the American Dental Association and the Academy of General Dentistry. If the dentist specializes, look for professional associations in that speciality. This usually means the doctor spends quite a few hours in workshops and seminars enhancing their skills.
Recent studies indicate bad oral health, especially periodontal disease, can affect the heart and overall health. Good for you, Mulan, in getting your deep cleaning done. It usually never as bad as we think it's going to be, right?
Yours in continuing good oral health (sorry, couldn't resist the marketing ploy)