As dentists in Southern Ocean County, we see teeth of all shapes and sizes and configurations. The stuff we deal with, however, is pretty tame compared to the wild world of animal teeth. Consider these amazing facts:
1. Elephants – Elephants get a new set of teeth every 10 years so, with up to six to ten sets coming in over the course of their lifetime. Losing their teeth can be an Earth-shaking experience, too, because elephant molars can weigh up to ten pounds each! No wonder elephants don’t chew their food, they grind it. If you count their tusks, elephants also have the longest teeth in the world. They can weigh up to 400 pounds!
2. Snails – Snails are small and gross, but from a teeth perspective they are pretty amazing. They can have upwards of 25,000 teeth – and they’re located on their tongue!
3. Dogs – Your dog may chew on anything and everything put in front of her, but chances are she’ll get less cavities than you do. Dogs are much less prone to cavities than humans are because their saliva has an extremely high pH level.
4. Sharks – Sharks lose their teeth on a regular basis, often on a weekly basis, but they are replaced quickly by row after row of fearsome teeth that are constantly growing in behind the main set.
5. Crocodiles – Just like sharks, crocs lose their teeth often, but when any of their 60 teeth come out, another quickly grows in its place. Over the course of their lifetime a crocodile may end up having thousands of teeth. Another fun fact: crocs keep a clean mouth thanks to the help of small birds called Crocodile Birds that fly in and clean their teeth for then. We’re glad the birds do it, because no sane New Jersey dentist would stick their head in a crocodile’s mouth!
6. Dolphins – Dolphins may not resemble trees, but they do in one weird way: you can tell a dolphin’s age by counting the rings on its teeth.
7. Armadillos – These funny looking little creatures have 104 teeth – quite a lot for little guys. Not so funny is that armadillos are known to carry leprosy, the only animal other than humans known to be able to carry it.
8. Hippos – It may look like they only have four teeth when they open their mouth, but in fact hippos have about 40 teeth. You don’t see them because most of them are located well to the back of their mouth. (It’s also worth noting that they may look cute and docile, but hippos are actually highly dangerous, killing more people in Africa each year than any other animal.)
9. Rats – If you’ve ever had a pet rat, you know they like to gnaw on things. It’s not just a habit for them, either. They need to gnaw. Rat teeth never stop growing, so gnawing helps keep their teeth at a reasonable size. The same holds true for hamsters, gophers, beavers and mice.
10. Blue Whales – They are the largest creatures ever to have lived, having reached upwards of 110 feet long and the largest recorded weighing an astounding 190 tons. But they don’t have any teeth.
11. Giraffes – They’re much taller than you are, but their mouths are similar to yours in one way: giraffes have 32 teeth, just like you do. Still, we don’t think any Ocean County dentists are tall enough to treat a giraffe!
Can you think of any others? If so, feel free to comment on our Facebook. Maybe we can use them in a future column!