Do Animals Floss Their Teeth?

Monkeys have been found to floss their teeth in a manner similar to humans. Macaques, a type of monkey native to Asia, were observed in Thailand winding strands of human hair around their fingers to use as floss to remove debris stuck in their teeth. A Japanese macaque in the 2013 Kyoto University Primate Research Institute study was also observed using various techniques to floss her teeth. The techniques involved biting into hair and chattering its teeth to remove parasites, as well as holding a piece of hair intact while moving its head back and forth to loosen the parasites in-between its teeth. The Japanese macaque also was witnessed flossing like a human, by weaving a strand of hair through its teeth.

More about animal teeth:

  • Sharks are estimated to have 20,000 teeth throughout their lifetime, as they lose their teeth on a weekly basis and grow new ones.
  • The baleen whale does not have teeth. Instead, it has stiff bristles similar to coarse human hair that catches food particles.
  • Elephants have the longest teeth in the animal kingdom, with their tusks reaching approximately 10 feet (3 m) in length.

Discussion Comments


While there are some animals that can easily adapt to trying to clean their teeth, it leads me to wonder how other animals accomplish this, especially if they don't have any way of doing so. One example is cats and dogs. While many of them have been domesticated and owned by humans, how do these animals floss and clean on a daily basis?

As far as I'm concerned, the only way in which I see this possible is if the owner cleans out their mouth on a daily basis. This immediately came to mind, but vets know how to properly take care of pets, so the risk of cats and dogs getting any mouth diseases is reduced greatly. As you can see, though there are some animals who can't clean for themselves, their vets and owners are more than willing to help out.


In relation to the third bullet point, I noticed it's mentioned how elephants have the longest teeth in the animal kingdom. Well, this question comes to mind, are elephant tusks even considered to be their teeth? After all, whenever they eat, I don't see them use it to grind food.

However, perhaps it's really meant to show just how important and unique teeth are in the animal kingdom as well. After all, the baleen whale doesn't even have teeth, which is mentioned in the second paragraph.

Overall, whether an animal has the "traditional" teeth or not, you can really tell that it goes well with their surroundings, and it helps them to adapt. For example, the baleen whale uses it's "teeth" to catch unsuspecting prey underwater, but it can be used for many other things as well. On the other hand, it's also possible for an elephant to use its tusk to fight off other animals.


This is a rather good question that more people need to think about. This is just my opinion, but I'm assuming one of the reasons many of us don't associate animals with trying to clean their teeth is because they seem a lot less sophisticated than us. While that may be true in some cases, one thing we need to understand is that while they may not have the exact same techniques as us, they can do things in a similar style, as seen in this article.

Also, considering how monkeys are one of the more smarter species in the animal kingdom, it's no surprise that they have similar methods like us. Speaking of which, one thing I've always wondered about animals is how they manage to keep all their teeth during their lifetime.

After all, though many of them have similar teeth cleaning methods to us, nothing can beat using a toothbrush, and taking a trip to the dentist. Just imagine all the plaque that builds up in the teeth on animals. Sharks seem to be an exception though, especially because they have many teeth that fall out.

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