Teeth are teeth, right? Not when it comes to the animal kingdom. In fact, even human teeth are pretty unique, and different teeth serve different, specialized purposes. Humans are omnivores, meaning that we are equipped to eat and digest foods from both meat and plants. To do that, we’ve got a variety of different kinds of teeth, including canines, incisors, premolars, and molars, which all carry out different functions when we eat. We also differ from some of the other animals on this list in that we shed our teeth only once in our lifetimes: when baby teeth go away in order to make room for the 32 teeth that we have as adults.
So human teeth are pretty unique, but what are some of the most fascinating teeth that you can find among other animals?
How about beavers, which are almost as well known for their four prominent incisors as they are for their distinctive tails? Those incisors are important—and they’re pretty unique, too. They turn orange because they absorb iron, which hardens their enamel, making them not only less prone to cavities, but also hard enough to chew through the trees that beavers use to build dams. Don’t try that at home!
Sharks are also pretty famous for their teeth, and with good reason! In order to catch their prey, sharks have multiple rows of teeth, one behind the other, with some species of shark boasting as many as 50 rows in all! (Imagine all that flossing!) Unlike humans, sharks also continue to shed teeth (and grow new ones) throughout their lifetimes, with a single shark shedding around 35,000 teeth over the course of its life.
Big cats have some pretty amazing teeth, too. Like your common house cat, big cats like lions and tigers have temporary teeth that come in shortly after they are born, to be replaced later with more permanent teeth. Siberian tigers have the longest canines of any extant predator, though the extinct smilodon or saber-toothed tiger has them beat, with maxillary canines around seven inches in length. For many big cats, however, it isn’t the size of the teeth, it’s the strength of the bite. Jaguars have a bite that is twice as strong as that of a lion, while Bengal tigers can bite with a force of 1,050 pounds per square inch (PSI). By contrast, it takes only 320 PSI to crush a watermelon!
Even Bengal tigers have nothing on the hippopotamus, though. While the hippo is an herbivore, it has one of the scariest mouths that you’re likely to find in nature, with canines up to 20 inches long and a bite that can produce a massive 1,821 PSI!
Here at Watts Family Dental, we think that these animals all have amazing teeth, but human teeth are pretty amazing, too! And we probably take better care of our teeth than most animals do. If you need a little help taking care of your amazing teeth, you can start by calling your Overland Park dentist at (913) 338-3384 to schedule an appointment!