The cleaning was, in fact, pretty damn painful. (It is time to start flossing again, since I seem to recall that makes dental visits hurt less.) On the upside, apart from one small cavity everthing seemed to be pretty OK; no problems with bone loss (I was worried about gum disease), my existing fillings seemed to be in good shape, etc.
So I got off pretty easy. Although I have to go back in a month for a follow-up cleaning and to get the cavity filled. Well, we'll see how that goes. In the meantime: floss.
Providence-area folks looking for a dentist may wish to know that I went to see Dr. Pochebit on Waterman Street (274-2743), who I heard about from coffee_drinker.