Elephant Teeth Cover - Krabi Elephant House Sanctuary


Elephants, the majestic giants of the animal kingdom, possess a fascinating and intricate dental structure that sets them apart from most mammals. In this edition of “Elephant’s Encyclopedia,” we delve into the realm of their teeth, uncovering the secrets behind the 26 dental pieces that play a crucial role in their lives.

The Tooth Symphony: An Overview of Elephant Dentition

Elephants exhibit a distinctive dental arrangement, featuring 26 teeth in total. Among these are the prominent incisors, commonly known as tusks, comprising 12 deciduous premolars and 12 molars. Unlike many mammals that undergo a single transition from baby teeth to a permanent adult set, elephants follow a unique polyphyodont pattern, involving multiple cycles of tooth rotation throughout their lifetimes.

A Lifetime of Tooth Replacement: The Elephant’s Dental Journey

One of the most intriguing aspects of elephant dentition is the sixfold replacement of their chewing teeth over a typical lifespan. Unlike conventional tooth replacement processes observed in other mammals, where new teeth emerge vertically from the jaws, elephants experience a distinct mechanism.
The journey begins as new teeth grow at the back of the elephant’s mouth, gradually pushing out the old ones as they move forward. The choreography of tooth replacement is a testament to the resilience and adaptability of these magnificent creatures.
  • First Set (2-3 years old): The inaugural chewing tooth on each side of the jaw bids adieu during the early years of an elephant’s life.
  • Second Set (4-6 years old): The saga continues as the second set of chewing teeth makes its exit, marking another stage in the ongoing dental cycle.
  • Third Set (9-15 years old): By adolescence, elephants experience the shedding of the third set of teeth, paving the way for the subsequent replacements.
  • Fourth Set (18-28 years old): The prime of an elephant’s life witnesses the transition of the fourth set of teeth, a pivotal moment in their dental journey.
  • Fifth Set (Early 40s): As elephants gracefully age, the fifth set of teeth departs, showcasing the enduring cycle of dental rejuvenation.
  • Sixth Set (Usually final): The sixth and usually final set of teeth must endure to serve the elephant throughout the remainder of its life.



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