Root Canal Dentistry

Being told you need a root canal is usually not what you want to hear from your dentist. But root canal treatment is not as scary or as painful as you might think, and it can save your natural tooth and eliminate the need to have it removed due to decay or infection.

What is a root canal?

A root canal is a procedure that can be done by a general dentist and involves removing the pulp, which is the soft substance in the center of the tooth and is composed of nerves, connective tissue, and blood vessels. In more severe cases, you might be referred to an endodontist, a dentist that specializes in root canals. 

  • When is root canal treatment needed? When the pulp is damaged, inflamed, or infected, a root canal is needed in order to preserve the structure of the tooth.
  • How do you know if you need a root canal? The most common symptom indicating the need for a root canal is pain in your tooth, along with swelling. You will also typically have persistent sensitivity to cold and hot substances.

Root Canal Treatment

A root canal is a relatively simple procedure and can be done in your dentist’s office without any general anesthesia. Depending on the extent of the infection, the root canal itself is completed in one to two visits, and typically you will need to return to have a permanent filling or crown placed after the root canal is completed.

  • Anesthetic: In most cases, a topical anesthetic will be placed on your gums near the tooth that will be worked on. After that has numbed the surface of your gums, your root canal dentist will inject a local anesthetic into your gums that will numb the tooth and the surrounding area. 
  • Pulp Removal: After your tooth is numb, the dentist will make a small opening in the top of the tooth in order to expose the damaged or infected pulp. Using special tools called files, the dentist will remove all of the pulp in your tooth, as well as thoroughly clean out all the canals of your tooth.
  • Antibiotics: Oftentimes, after your tooth has been cleaned out, in order to ensure the infection is gone, as well as prevent reinfection, the dentist will apply a topical antibiotic. You may also receive oral antibiotics depending on the extent of the infection. 
  • Filling or Crown: If your root canal is being done in two visits, the dentist will seal the opening that was created in the top of your tooth with a temporary filling at the end of the first appointment to protect the interior of your tooth. After the root canal is completed, a permanent filling will be placed. Often a crown is required, and typically a temporary crown will be placed while a permanent crown is made.

After a root canal, most patients experience an immediate improvement in the symptoms that led to needing the root canal initially. There may be some soreness and swelling in the gums around the tooth, or teeth, that was worked on. It is also important to minimize eating using that tooth until your permanent filling or crown is placed, to avoid damaging the tooth or re-contaminating the interior of the tooth, leading to an infection.

Are root canals painful?

In most cases, root canals actually alleviate pain for most people, as it is removing the nerve within the tooth that has become infected and inflamed. You may have some mild soreness, particularly around the gums, which is typically well-controlled with over-the-counter medication. 

Root Canal Therapy with Nathaniel Leedy, DMD Family and Cosmetic Dentistry

Root canal treatment doesn’t need to be a painful or fearful experience. Dr. Leedy and his team use their knowledge and advanced technology to provide as comfortable an experience as possible. If you find yourself in need of a root canal or other dental treatment, contact our office to schedule an appointment.

New Patient Information

New to our office? Please check out the Patient Forms page to learn more about preparing for your first visit with Dr. Leedy. 

How to Find Us

Our office is located seconds away from the Whole Foods Market in New Waverly Place!

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Monday: 7 AM – 3 PM

Tuesday: 7 AM – 3 PM

Wednesday: 7 AM – 3 PM

Thursday: 7 AM – 3 PM

Friday: Closed

Saturday: Closed

Sunday: Closed


530 New Waverly Pl Suite 100
Cary, NC 27518


(919) 335-7961


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