We’ve grown up learning that human teeth are actually pretty remarkable. Our teeth are one of the hardest substances in the human body, capable of chewing and shredding all sorts of food. Turns out that we aren’t the only creatures in the world that have a fascinating set of chompers. All around the world, animals have adapted to their environment and food source through evolutionary traits such as their teeth, and there are so many different kinds of teeth out there! Join our team here at Dentistry of Nashville as we take a look at just a few of the craziest teeth from around the animal kingdom.
Elephants are herbivores, meaning that their teeth grind plants and vegetation for food and nourishment. On average, an elephant can spend 12 to 18 hours per day feeding, and the constant grinding motion can actually flatten out the teeth completely over time. Luckily, the elephant has a natural occurring function that ensures they have a constant supply of healthy teeth. Elephants develop new teeth like a conveyor belt, with the new teeth erupting from the back of the jaw and moving forward, pushing the older, flattened teeth out of the mouth. Within an average lifespan for an elephant, they could go through 6 or more complete sets of teeth.
Bull sharks are one of the more aggressive types of sharks in the ocean, and their teeth are made for a top-notch predator. Each sharp tooth has serrated edges for capturing, ripping, and tearing the flesh of their prey. But did you know that for each single tooth, there are four more behind it? Literally! Bull sharks tend to lose teeth pretty frequently in their lifetime, so each tooth has three or four more teeth in line behind them, ready to replace any tooth that’s been lost. Similar to the elephant, it’s like a conveyor belt of teeth, only the shark will go through several thousand in their lifetime.
Most know to stay away from snakes, especially the venomous or poisonous kind. But when it comes to poisonous snakes, their teeth are actually pretty fascination (so long as you don’t need to meet one up close!). Their poison comes from a gland in their mouth that drips the concoction into their fangs, so that when they strike they transfer the poison immediately. It’s a deadly, but efficient, delivery system.
Dragonfish are one of the most mysterious fish that reside in the deep waters of our ocean and are completely blind. However, this hasn’t prevented them from developing some truly frightening chompers. But it’s not the brutally sharp teeth that have us worried, it’s the teeth on their tongue. You read right: this fish is notorious for having even more sharp teeth on their tongue, which accounts for even more why they can’t close their mouths all the way.
The Sheepshead is another fish that has patients as freaked out as the dragonfish. This fish possesses teeth that look incredibly like a human’s teeth. While research is being conducted into why this is, it’s theorized that these thick molar-like teeth are used to chomp through crustaceans.
Dolphin teeth may not seem too out of the ordinary. They’re pointed, good for biting into fish, but otherwise don’t seem significant. But one recent discovery is that dolphin teeth have something in common with trees: you can tell how old each of them are by counting the inner rings. Dolphins are born with one set of teeth that grow layers as they age. Therefore, if you cut one in half, you’ll be able to see the rings of layers over time and deduce how old the dolphin is.
Whales have a variety of types of teeth depending on what they eat. But baleen whales are special, as their food of choice is krill, one of the ocean’s smallest creatures. So, how does such a large animal like a whale eat one of the smallest ones? Instead of teeth, baleen whales have fine hairs that filter and capture krill for consumptions. In the summer months, when the krill are bountiful, whales come calling and eat heartily.
Take Care of Your Own Teeth Here in Nashville
Animals around the world have their own unique sets of teeth that do well in their environments, but with us humans, accidents happen. Whether you’ve lost a tooth due to trauma or disease, or have been generally unhappy with the appearance of strength of your jaw, contact us for a consultation with Drs. Elam, Vaughan, and Fleming. We offer a variety of services from dental implants to cosmetic treatments, so let us know what you would like for your dream smile.