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Posted on: August 2, 2023
Animal Teeth: Fun Facts
Almost all mammals have teeth — and that includes humans. Like the other animals, we use our teeth to break food down so we can swallow it. Our teeth also play a pivotal role in our ability to speak and pronounce various words.
Like most mammals and other animals, we have four different kinds of teeth: incisors, canine teeth, bicuspids (or premolars) and molars. Beginning proper dental care and at-home dental hygiene at an early age helps children develop good oral health habits that can keep their teeth looking and functioning well throughout their lives as they grow and age.
Incisors: Elephant Tusks
Incisors are your front teeth. They’re the eight teeth — four on top and four on bottom — that are most visible in your mouth, and they’re responsible for biting into food to cut it apart. Animals have incisors too, including elephants.
Through the process of evolution, elephants developed tusks from teeth in order to allow them to defend themselves as well as strip tree bark, collect food, hoist objects and dig in the ground, all to provide them with an evolutionary advantage.
In all animals, people included, evolution sparkled the development of incisors to help us eat. Without healthy incisors, your ability to eat and speak could be negatively impacted. That’s why it’s imperative to see a children’s dentist in Miami regularly so that your child can continue to grow up healthy and strong and look and speak their best.
Canine Teeth: Sharks
Throughout a shark’s life, it can grow up to about 50,000 teeth, which develop in rows upon rows: as many as five or more. These teeth are called canine teeth, and sharks use them to tear their prey apart into little pieces.
All animals have canine teeth, including humans, though none have quite as many as sharks. In people, there are four canines framing in the incisors. That means there’s one canine on each side of the top and bottom set of incisors. Like sharks, we use our canine teeth to tear apart the food our incisors have bitten off.
Sharks’ teeth, however, are resistant to cavities and covered in fluoride, whereas our teeth are neither. That’s a big part of the reason why we need to see a dentist in Miami routinely: to receive a much-needed fluoride treatment to protect teeth from cavities. It’s also to identify when signs of cavities are occurring and treat them early, removing any tooth decay or gum decay and preventing any more from occurring.
Sharks’ diets are also better than most people’s diets, lacking in the sugars, salts and acids that we consume regularly. This makes it all the more important that we give our teeth and gums the proper care they need.
Premolars (aka Bicuspids): Marsupials
Marsupials, like kangaroos and koala bears, have a couple or a few premolars, while humans, like most mammals, have eight: four on top and four on bottom, two each on either side of the top and bottom jaw. In any case, the roles they serve are much the same.
While most of the teeth in the mouth in both animals and humans serve a very distinctive, specialized purpose, premolars are less so. Instead, they help support many of these other purposes. Specifically, premolars (also known as bicuspids) help move the food from the canine teeth near the front of the mouth toward the molars in the rear of the mouth. They also help with biting, chewing, crushing and grinding — though, again, they are not the primary teeth responsible for any of these processes.
Cows eat their food somewhat differently than humans. Cows have no incisors in their upper jaw, so they must press their bottom incisors against the roof of their mouth to take bites of hay or grass. They use the hard, flat molars in the back of their mouths along with their big lips to chew up those mouthfuls into swallowable bits. Goats, sheep, giraffes, and other animals with hooves also eat similarly.
While humans have incisors in the front of our mouths to do the biting, we also have molars in the back of our mouths to do the chewing and grinding. We have a dozen molars in our mouths: three each in the upper and lower back left and right.
People’s Teeth Need Proper Care
Wild animals don’t have the advantages of dentists to help look after their teeth, but people do. By seeing your pediatric dentist regularly or whenever you notice a problem in your child’s mouth, you can keep your child’s teeth healthier, better looking, and functioning for a (human) lifetime.