The natural tendency when putting this question is to try to associate the number of teeth of an animal, the size of its mouth, or even its size. If so, we could risk saying that it is the hippopotamus, possessing one of the largest mouths among terrestrial animals. But in fact, the sizes of the mouths or even the size of an animal have absolutely no connection whatsoever to the number of teeth they have.
In numbers, mollusks such as whelks, slugs and snails, the most inverted teeth in their mouths, have between 2,000 and 15,000 micro-teeth, consisting of chitin, a substance that forms the outer skeleton of arthropods (insects and Crustaceans), giving them the appearance of a shell.
These micro-teeth are located in the radula, an organ similar to the human tongue, and are used to scrape rocks (for microalgae), plants or even other animals from which they take their food. That is, for these animals, the teeth are not used to chew as in the case of humans or to grab prey, as for predatory animals, but to perform a scraping.
According to a survey by the School of Engineering at the University of Portsmouth in Great Britain, these teeth have a resistance almost similar to the stronger materials ever produced by man.
This finding suggests that the secret of the strength of the material is that its mineral fibers are pressed into a very fine structure. Scientists estimate that tooth strength is on average about 5 gigahertz (GPa), a force similar to the pressure used to turn carbon into diamond under the earth’s crust.
What about the number of teeth among vertebrates?
In the case of vertebrates, sharks and dolphins are at the top of the list for the number of teeth they have. There are sharks with 60 teeth, including those that are arranged in the upper and lower jaw. In humans, the number ranges from 28 to 32 teeth.
For the white shark, the number increases by 50 times, in the case of this vertebrate, there are up to 3,000 triangular teeth, serrated and very sharp, about 7.5 centimeters, inserted in the jaws in rows, gently inclined inwards. This set can exert the force of three tons per square centimeter at each bite.
Still, a shark can lose up to 30,000 teeth throughout its life. But whenever one falls, another is born in its place. As this is a predatory animal with a very violent shock between it and its prey, it is not surprising that one of the most common things to find on the seabed is shark teeth.
Dolphins also have a large number of teeth, ranging from 80 to 100. Although we have a more docile image of these animals, they are predators just like sharks, and use their teeth to hold their prey and feed.
The more teeth, the stronger the bite?
No, the fact that an animal has a strong bite is not connected to the number of teeth it has. For example, a jagged bite of up to 115 kg and 30 teeth can have the strength equivalent to that of a white shark with about 3,000 teeth and a size of 2,250 kg.
In the case of man, the toothed force of a person who weighs an average of 70 kg and has up to 32 teeth is only one fifth of that of the animals.