Dental Formula

All mammal species have a fixed arrangement of teeth which can be generalised into a dental formula. The jaws of a mammal are vertically symmetrical. The teeth on the left side of the mouth will, in general, correspond to the teeth on the right, however, more often than not, the teeth on the top jaw will not correspond to those on the bottom. With this in mind, it is possible to work out the dental formula. Lets look at one half of a lion jaw, The upper right side consists of three Incisors, the bottom right side also consists of three Incisors. We can right this down as I=3/3. The first number represents the number of incisors on one side of the top jaw, the second number represents the number of insicors on one side of the bottome jaw. I= inscisors. The same can be achieved with the other teeth types. C=canines, P=premolars, M=molars.

The whole dental formula for a lion is I=3/3 C=1/1 P=3/2 M=1/1

A dental formula can only be effectively applied to the adult of a species.

Tooth Arrangement

picture courtesy of Kris Byrant


Lion (Panthera leo)

It has come to my attention that several people have visited this page looking for the dental formula of a particular mammal. Individual dental formulas can be found by clicking skull pictures, but please note that this is not a complete list of British mammal dental formulae.

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