Do elephants have teeth? | Almanac.com

Do elephants have teeth?

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Do elephants have teeth?
Yes, 26 in all, which includes 12 premolars, 12 molars, and 2 modified incisors (the tusks).

Elephants grow 6 sets of teeth during their lifetime. Each tooth develops at the back of the mouth, and then gradually moves forward as it wears down; it eventually falls out, to be replaced by more from the back.

An elephant calf is born with 4 small molars, which will last for about 2 years before they fall out. Each successive set of teeth will last longer, with the final set appearing when the elephant is about 30 years of age.

The older sets of teeth grow larger and heavier than the earlier ones. A mature set can contain teeth between 8 and 11 inches long that weigh more than 8 pounds.

After about 60 years, older elephants will have very few, if any, teeth. Often, this can lead to starvation.

Tusks: In addition to premolars and molars, the two species of elephants also have two upper incisors that grow into tusks. (However, some female elephants do not grow tusks.) These tusks are not much help in eating, except that they can help the elephant to gather food. Elephants use their trunks to detach vegetation and put it in their mouths.