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The sharpest teeth of all time were in the jawless mouth of a primitive eel-like animal—the two-inch long conodont.

New research from the University of Bristol and Monash Univeristy, Australia found that conodonts’ teeth had tips one-twentieth the width of a human hair and are invisible without a microscope, but could apply pressure that could compete with that of human jaws.

The condonts went extinct about the time dinosaurs arose 200 million years ago, but they were most likely the first creatures with teeth. Even though the condont didn’t have a jaw or jaw muscles like us to help it eat, it used tiny forces to bear down on food, which kept its teeth sharp. Also, its teeth were like blades and sliced food from left to right and interlocked, instead of going up and down like mammalian teeth.

The sharper the teeth, the easier they normally can break, but these animals re-sharpened and repaired worn down teeth throughout their lives, which most animals haven’t figured out how to do.

The condont teeth were studied through high resolution 3D models of the condont elements that used x-rays from a particle accelerator. The virtual models were studied, so the original specimens weren’t tampered with. There are many condont teeth in marine sedimentary rocks, which can continue to be studied to help scientists learn more about where teeth came from.

Even thought the dentist can’t give you conodont sharp teeth, we can help you if your teeth are worn down. Contact Lakeway Center for Cosmetic and General Dentistry to learn more about our wide variety of dental services.