We aren’t all artists and performers, but sometimes we need to get really creative to engage our children with keeping their teeth clean. Redirection is an important tool. Sometimes just having something new to say is enough to keep the brushing going for another minute or two! Below are some fascinating facts about the teeth of a couple cool animals to stuff into your bag of interesting information.
Animal teeth can be very different from ours, and some are surprisingly similar. No matter the differences, it is interesting to consider how our friends in the animal kingdom use their teeth, and how exactly they keep their teeth clean without brushing!
Big cats, or little cats share a similar dental design. For one thing, their mouths only move up and down, with no side to side movement. That’s because their teeth are suited to their carnivorous (meat only) diet. Unlike our mouths, a cat’s mouth only has sharp teeth for eating meat. These teeth are sharp like our canines, and are designed for getting meat off of bones. Cats grow two sets of teeth in their lifetime, just like us, but their baby teeth never fall out. In the wild eating bones and grass naturally cleans their teeth. Housecats however, need to have their teeth brushed and can get cavities just like me and you.
The herbivore (plants only) diet of cows, determines that they need more teeth like our molars to grind their foods. Sure enough, there are no canine (sharp) teeth in their mouths at all. In fact, cows don’t have any teeth in the upper front of their mouths. The lower front teeth (called “incisors” like our front teeth) are used for tearing of the vegetation, and the back of the mouth is full of molars to grind and grind. Because they use their teeth for grinding so much , the teeth of these animals need to grow a little every year. Otherwise, they might grind them down to nothing.
Your regular snail has between 14,000 – 20,000, which is the highest number of teeth of any animal. There is an aquatic snail that also has teeth that are harder than titanium! Unlike our teeth, snail teeth grow on their tongue. These many teeth are used for scraping or cutting up their food.
Like snails, sharks have a lot of teeth. Their teeth grow in rows and fall out all the time. Which is why you can find them at the beach. As the front teeth fall out, the back ones move forward and a new one grows. I don’t think these animals have to worry too much about cavities or brushing. I am certainly not going to help a shark brush his teeth!
Whales teeth are like no other teeth in the animal kingdom, in fact, they aren’t even called teeth! Where you might expect to find teeth whales instead have a comb shaped structure, called baleen, that filters small shrimp and fish out of the water with its bristles. So, whatever is left behind goes straight into their bellies.
One general difference, between human and animal teeth, is that animals have a lot lower risk of cavities. This is partly because a lot of animals chew on rough materials, like bark or bones. Chewing on these hard materials keep their teeth clean. But by far the largest factor in causing cavities is sugar. Animals out in the wild do not eat sugar! Sugar is the main reason humans and domesticated animals develop cavities. So, limit your treats and sweets for your dog and yourself to help keep teeth clean and healthy.
I hope this will provide some teachable moments with your little ones – schedule their appointment with us today!
Peace out, water babies!