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4 Fun Facts About Animal Teeth
Posted on 07/31/2017

4 Fun Facts About Animal Teeth

At Pediatric Dentistry Kahala, we talk a lot about how to keep your teeth healthy and strong and, what we can do to fix things when they don’t go quite the way you planned. Dr. Allen Hirai and his staff are committed to the dental health of the children of Honolulu and the surrounding communities. 

Of course humans have dentists to help care for their teeth, but what about animals? Our staff put together these five fun facts about animal teeth we thought you might enjoy.

1. Animals With the Most Permanent Teeth

armadilloThe mammal on land with the most permanent teeth lives in South America and can have as many as 100 teeth in its jaws. It’s the 600-pound Giant Armadillo. These  animals like to burrow close to grassland, brushland, and woodlands. In the U.S., you’ll only find a smaller type of armadillo,called the nine-banded armadillo, hanging out in the deserts of the Southwest.

While you won’t see a Giant Armadillo near Honolulu, you might see the ocean animal that has the most teeth - the Spinner Dolphin. The Spinner Dolphin, known for its acrobatic spins above the water, can have as many as 252 teeth in its long, thin jaws. This long-snouted dolphin can weigh from 51 to 170 pounds and grow up to eight feet long. You can recognize it from its tri-colors - dark gray dorsal area; light gray sides; and pale gray or white underside. As a general rule, ocean animals have many more teeth than land animals with more than 100 fish teeth for every single animal tooth on land. With all those teeth, maybe Dr. Hirai should start a pediatric dental office for ocean animals?

2. Animals With The Most Replacing Teeth

alligatorWhile the Giant Armadillo and Spinner Dolphin have a lot of teeth, there are animals who have even more teeth...IF you count all that they replace throughout their lifetimes! American alligators have 80 teeth, each of which they replace about once a year after they become worn down. Over their long lives, an alligator may re-generate something like 4,000 teeth. Alligators live in the U.S., along waterways from North Carolina to Texas Rio Grande. They are carnivorous and have strong jaws that can crack a turtle shell. They use their teeth to grab and hold prey, but then they eat it whole, unless it’s so big they have to tear it apart in pieces. For humans, once you knock out or have to pull a permanent tooth, your dentist has to replace it with an implant or you have to run around with a hole in your mouth. Recently, scientists began studying alligators and how they reproduce teeth in hopes of making a connection to help humans regrow additional teeth!

Have you ever found a shark’s tooth on the beach? That’s because sharks are famously known for losing teeth. For example, great white sharks have approximately 50 teeth at any one time (their “working" teeth). Like most sharks, however, they have multiple rows of teeth in development that are ready to take the place of teeth that fall out.The number of teeth a shark grows and uses during its lifetime can be enormous –  more than 30,000 teeth in their lifetime! That's roughly 937 times the number of teeth the average human has!

3. Animals With The Longest Teeth 


It makes sense that the largest land animal in the world would also have the largest teeth! An elephant's ivory tusks are not only the longest and heaviest teeth, but an elephant's molars are also the longest and heaviest teeth that are used as teeth, being over a foot long (including the roots) and weighing 10 pounds. Tusks are considered an elephant’s incisor teeth. They are used for defense, digging for water, and lifting things. An elephant has four molars, one on the top and one on the bottom on both sides of the mouth. Elephants also have the largest brains and its heart can weigh from 27 to 46 pounds. Elephants are the only mammal that can’t jump but they can live to be more than 70 years old.

4. Largest Animals With Teeth

squidAs you have seen, the size of the animal does not necessarily correlate with the number or size of teeth! But what’s the largest animal that does have teeth? These awards we give to two “monsters” of the sea - the Kraken and the Sperm Whale. A Kraken (the centuries-old mythical name) is the largest invertebrate known to exist - a colossal squid that can grow to more than 40-feet long. First discovered in 1925, after almost a hundred years there is still little known about this monster. It lives at the very bottom of the deepest oceans primarily around Antarctica and is preyed on by deep-diving whales. It has two rows of suckers that are lined with small teeth on the inner surface of eight arms and two tentacles. 

Contact Your Local Pediatric Dentist This Summer!

Now that you’ve learned fun facts about types of teeth, it’s time to think about taking care of your child’s teeth! Call our office at (808) 737-0076 for complete pediatric dental services, such as cleanings, sealants and general oral health advice. We proudly serve patients in Honolulu, Kahala, Hawaii Kai, Manoa and surrounding communities.