I spoke with my family doctor and with my dentist, and they both agreed that there is nothing unusual about having anxiety and that it can be easily dealt with. I then sought out a friend of mine who deals with her own anxiety. They all reached the same recommendation, tooth fairy dust or as it's more commonly known, anti-anxiety medication is an excellent option. There is more than one type available and you must consult your health care professionals to select what will work for you.
I arrived for my appointment half and hour early. My dentist gave me a tiny blue pill to take. Half and hour later, time to go sit in the big chair. I had no trepidation what so ever. I didn't flinch when it was freezing time. I didn't care that he was drilling, I just turned up the volume on my audio device.
I reclined in that comfy chair, listened to my audio book and had the best appointment of my life. I knew that he and his assistant were doing stuff, but it didn't concern me. My filling was replaced and I was so so so relaxed. Hubby then took me home and I slept the afternoon away. I did find that I had to re-listen to my audiobook the next day as I couldn't recall what I had previously heard.
Honestly, it was the best decision I could have made. The medication is fast acting, I was under supervision and it was safe. I am happy. No lingering effects the next day except for a calm feeling.
I wanted to share this story as I know there are many people who are foregoing appropriate medical care due to their anxiety. Talk with your doctor, talk with your dentist. There is help and tooth fairy dust available.
note: I have no medical qualifications
edited June 7, 2017. A friend sent this additional information that might be helpful:
Another tip for those with dental anxiety. If you find your anxiety starts after you've gotten your numbing shot, you should know that adrenaline is mixed with the numbing agent to make it last longer. I have found that the adrenaline seems to trigger an anxiety attack in me, so now I ask the dentist to not use the adrenaline. She may have to give you another shot of the numbing agent partway through the procedure, but I no longer get anxiety attacks in the chair.