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Each tooth has at the least one canal, but can have up to four canals. (Instead of the sentence: Each tooth has one root or two or three or maybe four canals.)
When the tooth is traumatized, or have a big decay the pulp may become inflamed and infected and need a root canal.
The tooth that needs a root canal may be sore, but it may also be symptomless.
In a root canal treatment the canals are accessed, the pulp is removed and each canal space is enlarged and cleaned. The prepared canal space is filled with a special rubber material called gutta percha and a special cement.
This procedure takes an hour on average.