Elephant teeth – everything you ever wanted to know about Elephant’s teeth
So be honest with Reeko. How many times have your parents told you to go brush your teeth? Six time today ?!?! We all know that brushing your teeth is needed to keep your teeth healthy and white. If you were an elephant though, healthy teeth would not be a problem. Elephants simply grow new teeth.
Most mammals, including humans, are born with a set of “baby teeth” that are used for practice runs before a full set of permanent teeth grow in. The permanent teeth that replace them are used for the remainder of their lives. Elephants however, go through six sets of 9lb teeth during their lifetimes, with new teeth growing in to replace old ones that have worn out.
An elephants starts with two front teeth that fall out after about a year and are replaced by a set of ivory tusks. These tusks grow about 5 inches per year and eventually stick out of the elephant’s mouth under its upper lip (you can’t judge their age by the length of their tusks however because they are continually worn down and broken during their routine day-to-day elephant activities). Elephants use these tusks as weapons, to dig up food, and to tear bark off of trees. When polished and kept clean, they are rumored to be very attractive to the lady elephants.
After the tusks grow in, the elephant grows a pair of teeth in the back of their mouth. These teeth are large, grinding molars that they use to chew up their food using a backward-forward grinding action. As these teeth begin to wear out, they move forward towards the front of the elephant’s mouth. As they move forward, new molars come in at the back of their mouth. Sort of like an assembly line in a factory (without all the noise). An elephant may grow up to 24 of these teeth, each weighing in at about 9 pounds.
Elephants typically have 4 sets of these teeth at any given time. In cases where the teeth may get stuck and don’t easily fall out, the elephant will chew on tree trunks and old tires to loosen them up. Once this cycle is complete, and the elephant can no longer grow any new teeth, the elephant dies from starvation.