I can understand your fears of going to the dentist. You have had bad experience before so this does not help you with your fears. But believe me their are still many good dentist out there that care.
You are going to have to go to a dentist. They are the only ones that can help you and get rid of your pain. By doing nothing it will only make the problem bigger and may cause you over all health care problems. So try these few suggestion in oder for find the dentist that may be right for you.
Call the dentist office. Ask them all the general questions you may first have. (what time they are open / how far booked up are they / that in general speaking terms that they do what you need to have done etc.) This will help you get a feel for the office. Why is that important? They are the first people you deal with. If they can not be helpful to you how good of a start is that?
When you make your appointment let the staff know right from the start that you have some fears and concerns about just going to the dentist. By doing they they can inform the dentist of your fears and he can help address them with you.
Go to your appointment a little early. After the dentist does the x-rays they will go over what they feel is needed. Now dentist tend to speak in turns that can be Greek to us. They do not do this to confuse us this is just how they talk. If you do not understand what they are saying ask any and all questions until you fully understand. Do not worry about them getting upset with you. A good dentist will take the time to explain things to you so that you do fully understand what they are advising for you.
Check the dentist out. You can do this now very easy just by doing a name search on line (yahoo / google / bing it ) See if anyone has anything good or bad to say.
Now you seem to state cost is an issue and you can not afford insurance. However, there are many low cost dental insurance like an HMO or even a dental discount plan that can help you reduce your dental cost.
And remember you have the final say. If you get in the office and do not like how the dentist is talking to you then leave. It ok to do this. Do this until you find a dentist that make sense for you.
Please keep in mind for the most part no dentist wants to pull teeth unless it is the only choice. They can do this with out pain by putting you to sleep. This might be the way for you to go since you have your fears to address. Ask for all your options. Knowing is part of the way to reliving fears.