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Fun Facts for Kids – Dental Hygiene in the Wild

August 1st, 2017
a monkey cleaning its teeth

Previously we’ve looked at the wildest animal teeth that nature has to offer, but have you ever thought about how animals keep their teeth clean?
 

Cats and Dogs

If you have a cat or a dog you’ve probably had to clean their teeth at some point with paste or dental treats to chew on. Most wild animals don’t have to worry about tooth decay, especially if they’re carnivorous predators who rip and tear at their food. That’s because they don’t eat a lot of carbohydrates and refined sugars – those tasty foods that are full of the sugars and starches that fill our mouths with cavity-creating bacteria.
 

Rodents and Rabbits

Other animals, like rodents, have teeth that grow continuously and have to be ground down by eating and gnawing on hard food. Sharks and alligators are constantly losing and growing new teeth!

If your teeth are always new it’s going to be difficult to have tooth decay. This is why otters can eat fish & eels and rabbits can eat grasses & plants (and lions can eat everyone else) without having to worry about going to the dentist!
 

Cows and Buffalo

The diet of some herbivores naturally cleans their teeth as they chew. Fibourous plants and an extended chew-time allows animals like cows to scrub their teeth as they eat.
 

Monkeys

Humans are not alone in caring for their teeth. Scientists have filmed macaque monkeys using hair to floss their teeth. Macaques living near a Buddhist shrine in Thailand even pull out visitors’ hair to use as floss! And like all good parents, these monkeys also teach their children how to floss. They slow down their flossing, make exaggerated movements, and repeat themselves while the younger monkeys watch.

Want to learn more about this impressive skill? Check out this article from National Geographic!

So remind your patients, if a monkey can brush their teeth, so can they!

 

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