African elephants have sloping teeth, with each molar having a maximum of ten ridges. They are suited to browsing on trees, bushes and branches. The Asian elephant has molars with parallel ridges, around twenty per molar, and are more suited to their diet of grass. Their teeth move in a forward and backward motion, chewing and grinding down their food.
How many teeth does an elephant have?
Elephants have a total of 24 teeth, six in each half jaw. Only four of the teeth are used at any one time for eating, two on each side of the jaw. As these wear down they are pushed towards the front of the mouth by new, larger, teeth which grow from the back, where they will eventually break off and be replaced by the newer ones. This happens up to six times during the life of the elephant;
Molar Appearance Loss 1 Birth 2 years 2 Birth 6 years 3 1 year 13-15 years 4 6 years 28 years 5 18 years 43 years 6 30 years 65+ years
The final set are the last the elephant will ever have, and when they wear down it will find chewing food difficult. They will sometimes seek out marshy and wet areas, with softer plants, but ultimately the elephant will die of starvation.
Photo credit: Flickr user dolanh