The Strongest Natural Material Known to Humans

Closeup of a snail with a brown swirly shell hanging onto a green stem with a few leaves against a green background

Our Phoenix dental team is fascinated by all things teeth-related, including snail teeth.

What Do You Know About Snail Teeth?

Consider a snail: what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it Gary, the pet snail of SpongeBob SquarePants? You might have a co-worker, friend, or family member that tends to move “slow as a snail.” Perhaps you are frustrated by a garden snail afflicting your plants. Well, did you know, in addition to their squishy, slow, and slimy characteristics, snails have teeth? (Check out this link from NPR to hear what it sounds like when a snail chews.) In fact, the average garden snail has a whopping 14,000 teeth.

The Toughest Snail Under the Sea

Moreover, scientists have found that snail teeth are remarkably hard, with the teeth of a snail-like marine creature called a limpet being literally the strongest, most durable biological material known to humankind!

Does This Mean We Should Fear Snail Bites?

With literally thousands of extra hard teeth, should we worry about the bite of a snail? Fortunately, the simple answer is, probably not. A snail’s microscopic teeth are arranged in rows along what is essentially its tongue, called the radula, so its durable teeth are ideally positioned to scrape up, or rasp, food particles. Typically, its teeth are so small that this rasping is unlikely to break your skin and create a wound. The limpet, who enjoys feasting upon algae growing atop sea rocks, is virtually harmless to humans.

The Meanest Snail Under the Sea

On the other hand, there is a different type of sea snail that can be deadly, called the geographic cone snail. This predatory marine snail hunts by delivering a paralytic toxin with its harpoon-like teeth to unsuspecting small fish, but it has caused a few dozen human deaths. It is considered one of the most venomous animals in the world so if you go diving or snorkeling in any tropical waters, the Mediterranean Sea, the southern cape of South Africa, or the waters around Southern California, watch out!

Don’t Be Slow As a Snail About Scheduling Your Next Dental Visit!

Although we don’t grind our teeth over rocks, our teeth do have to combat plaque, acids, and daily wear and tear. And unlike snails and other interesting wildlife found in Arizona, our smiles need to be properly cared for with daily oral hygiene and biannual professional cleanings. Our Arizona Biltmore Dentistry team can’t make your teeth as hard as a snail’s, but we can make sure your teeth are healthy and as strong as can be so you feel good about your smile and are able to enjoy the food you eat. Come visit us soon!

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