For many reasons, we think animals have it right in several aspects of life. The biggest thing they have going for them is their ability to keep seemingly perfect set of teeth without going through the daily ritual of brushing and flossing. Certainly, they don’t have dentists in the middle of the amazon or in the depths of the ocean…So how do they do it?
Survival of the fittest is the name of the game for most wild animals. The jungle is quite unforgiving, as it doesn’t matter where you are in the food chain. Animals have to constantly watch their backs in the wild and often their teeth are the weapon of choice. Whether it’s fighting off predators or hunting prey, teeth are a must have.
Since the wilderness can be rough, most animals with teeth have evolved over time to find remedies to tooth decay.
Canines include all animals that belong to the feline family such as cheetahs, tigers, lions, as well as the dog family which includes jackals and hyenas. These animals have saliva that has a very high pH, kind of like a natural toothpaste.
The saliva stops demineralization of their teeth and protects them from tooth decay. While chewing, there is abrasion that brushes their teeth and removes the plaque. Many of these animals eat all of their prey, bones included, which acts as their floss and toothbrush.
Herbivores, like humans, only have one permanent set of teeth after they reach maturity. As they chew, which they do a lot, the upper surfaces tend to wear out. To compensate for this, herbivore teeth grow by about an eighth of an inch every year.
Sharks are armed to the teeth, quite literally. Arguably they have the sharpest and deadliest set of teeth. Undoubtedly the king of the oceans, shark teeth are used for everything, from feeding to fighting off competition. For this reason, their teeth wear out really quick.
A shark gets a new set of deadly shredders every two weeks. Some shark species such as the ground shark are estimated to shed over 30,000 teeth in their lifetime.
These graceful creatures have been poached worldwide and are currently an endangered species. Elephant tusks come in handy in protecting them from predators such as lions that sometimes hunt them during droughts, when food is scarce.
The tusks are replaced once the elephant reaches 40 years old. Elephants are known to rub their tusks against trees. This process is a lot like brushing. As a precaution, elephants use one tusk more than the other, this reduces the risk of losing both of them at the same time.
Rodents such as hamsters, rats, and guinea pigs have incisors that grow continuously throughout their lifetime. This is because they chew almost anything and everything, every chance they get.
We Are Not Animals
While it’s true that most wild animals are able to breeze through life without worrying about dental hygiene, you are certainly not able to shed your teeth every two weeks like a shark or a crocodile. What sets us apart from animals is that we consume a lot of processed foods and refined sugars that are not good for our teeth during our lifetime.
Secondly, most animals have a shorter lifespan compared to their teeth. This means they are likely to be killed by something else before they start suffering from any dental diseases. Humans tend to outlive their teeth and as such, we have to take better care of them to ensure we get the best out of them for as long as possible.
Humans can’t get away with not brushing their teeth. Practice oral hygiene daily and get regular dental checkups. Visit your local dentist, Dr. Chris Mott, to learn more about what you can do to make your dental routine easier.