Snake Teeth

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The arrangement and number of teeth is extremely species-specific. Some species of snake have virtually no teeth while others have very highly developed teeth. The function of undifferentiated teeth is to draw food items into the mouth rather than to chew. Teeth continue to be replaced throughout life.

  • Morphology - Teeth are of the pleurodont type and are generally not differentiated (aglyphous) except for fangs in venomous snakes or in species with specialised feeding habits.
  • Fangs - Fangs may be located at the front or the rear of the mouth. Front fangs are either fixed (prosthoglyphous) or moveable (solenoglyphous). They are attached to the maxilla and may be shed monthly. Reserve fangs are present behind each functional fang and these grow in size, move forward and ankylose with the maxilla. Rear fangs may be one or two pairs of enlarged teeth positioned caudally in the mouth (opisthoglyphous) or the unusual arrangement seen in xenodontine dentition.
  • Position - Dentigerous bones include the mandibles, maxillae, palatines, pterygoids and sometimes the premaxillae. There are usually two rows of lower teeth and four rows of upper teeth.