The number and type of permanent teeth in a cow are fixed. Here, I will answer the question – how many teeth does a cow have?
Quick answer: the cow has 32 permanent teeth in both upper and lower jaws. There are no incisors teeth in the upper jaw of the cows, which is termed the dental pad.
Again, the cows’ upper and lower jaws lack canine teeth. Thus, you will only find three types of teeth in the cow’s mouth.
I will count the exact number of these types of teeth from a cow’s mouth sample. You will also understand how the number of deciduous teeth varies from the cow’s permanent teeth.
Let’s start learning the type and number of cow’s deciduous and permanent teeth with a diagram.
How many teeth does a cow have?
The cows have 3 various types of teeth to perform specialized functions. These teeth are developed in different manners in terms of their size and shape.
The younger and older cows show two different patterns of teeth arrangement. Thus, the number of teeth is also different between them.
First, let’s see the permanent dental formulation from the older cows –
2(I0/4C0/0P3/3M3/3) = 32
Thus, the cow has a total of 32 permanent teeth.
Now, let’s see and identify 3 various types of teeth in the cow’s upper and lower jaws. The diagram shows the incisor, premolar, and molar teeth from the cow’s lower jaw.
- Incisors teeth: these are the rostral teeth embedded in the upper incisive and lower mandibular incisive bones.
- Canine teeth: these are the larger teeth between incisors and cheek teeth. But, they are absent in the cow’s jaws.
- Premolar teeth: are the rostral check teeth and
- Molar teeth: these are the caudal check teeth of the cow’s mouth,
The premolar and molar teeth are collectively known as the cheek teeth in animals.
Now, let’s count these three types of teeth from the cows’ upper and lower jaws. Table 1 shows the counting of three various types of teeth from the cow’s upper and lower jaws –
|Type of cow’s teeth||Number in upper jaw||Number in lower jaw|
Structure of the cow’s teeth
Knowing the ideal structure of the teeth before counting them from a cow’s jaws is mandatory. You will find the following features in the structure of a cow tooth –
- Ememel on the crown,
- Cementum of the cow tooth,
- Dentin and pulp cavity of the cattle teeth, and
- The root of the tooth,
First, let’s see the diagram and try to identify the different structures of the cow’s teeth. Again, a tooth of any animal has 3 parts – crown, neck, and root.
- Crown: is the projecting part of the teeth above the gum,
- Neck: is the constricted part between the crown and root of the animal’s tooth and
- Root: it is the part below the gum line embedded in the alveoli of the incisive or mandibular bone,
Based on the crown, you will find 2 types of teeth in the cow’s jaw –
- Low-crown or brachydont teeth: they have three ideal parts – crown, neck, and root. The incisors of the cows are the low-crown teeth.
- High-crown or hypsodont teeth: they have no distinct neck part. The cow’s cheek teeth (premolar and molar) are the high-crown teeth.
Now, let’s describe the various structures of the cow’s teeth.
What are the enamel, dentin, and cementum of the cow’s teeth?
Ememel: the exposed part of the cow tooth is covered with a very hard, translucent material. This material of the cow tooth is the enamel.
The enamel covers only the crown part of the cow’s incisors or low-crowned teeth. Again, the enamel covers the crown and body parts of the high-crowned teeth. However, the roots of the high-crowned teeth are not covered with the enamels.
Dentin: the dentin is the bulk of the cow teeth that consists of well-organized dentinal tubules. The central canal, known as the pulp cavity, is within the dentin.
This pulp cavity of the teeth is expanded at the closed end to form the pulp chamber. The canal is narrow at the root and opens at the apical foramen.
The pulp cavity lines with a layer of odontoblast cells. Again, the pulp cavity of the cow’s teeth contains connective tissue, arterioles, and nerve fibers.
Cementum: the cementum is the thin, bone-like covering of the cattle teeth. It is yellowish and mainly covers the root or entire teeth.
In the low-crowned teeth, the cementum covers only the root. But, the cementum covers the entire surface of the high-crowned teeth of the cows.
How do we identify incisors and cheek teeth from the cow’s jaws?
You might know their unique features to identify and differentiate the cow’s incisors from the check teeth. Table 2 shows the special features of both incisors and cheek teeth from the cow’s jaws–
|Type of cattle teeth||Unique features of the teeth|
|Incisors teeth||Have distinct crown, neck, and root|
Eight in lower jaws (rostrally)
Low-crowned teeth in the cows
Also termed as cutters’ teeth
|Premolar teeth||Have distinct crowns and roots|
No distinct neck of the premolar
The crown of the premolar has 5 surfaces
Parts of the cheek teeth (rostral 3)
|Molar teeth||Similar features of the premolar|
Known as the grinder teeth
Larger than the premolar
Parts of the cheek teeth (caudal 3)
Cementum covers the entire teeth
Now, let’s see the diagram where I tried to show the ideal difference among these 3 types of teeth.
How many incisors does a cow have?
The cows have 8 incisors only in the lower jaw. These eight incisors of the lower jaws of a cow are arranged in a fan-shaped manner.
They are simple teeth without infundibulum. You will see a short, white, shovel-shaped crown in the cow’s incisors.
The roots of the incisors are rounded and embedded in the lower jaw. However, the incisors are absent from the cow’s upper jaw.
You may know the details of the cow’s jaw bones from another article of anatomy learner. I have already described the features of the cow jaws with a diagram in the below-mentioned article –
The incisor of a cow also shows a distinct neck and root. The following terms are used to express the incisor teeth –
- Central incisor,
- First intermediate incisor teeth,
- Second intermediate incisor, and
- Corner incisor teeth,
All these cow’s incisors are identified in the labeled diagram. The corner incisor is probably a much modified canine tooth.
The incisors of the permanent teeth do not undergo many eruptions. You will see little difference in the incisors between the permanent and deciduous teeth in the cows.
The deciduous incisors are much smaller and diverge. Again, the corwn of these deciduous incisors are narrower than those of the permanent incisors.
What is the dental pad in a cow?
The dental pad in a cow is the teeth less part of the upper incisive bone. Here, the dental pad is formed by the thick layer of connective tissue on the body of the incisive body.
The cow’s dental pad is also covered with the cornified epithelium. You will see a small triangular papilla incisive in the midline between the dental pads.
Behind the papilla incisive, you will find the first transverse ridge of the hard palate of a cow mouth. The incisive ducts open on either side of the cow’s papilla incisive.
Let’s know the details of the cow mouth anatomy from the below-mentioned article –
Do cows have top teeth?
Yes, the cows have top teeth. Only the dental pad area of the top misses the incisor teeth.
Here, the diagram shows the top teeth from the cow’s jaw. The number of the top teeth in cattle is less than the bottom teeth.
Let’s see the number of the top teeth from the cows.
How many teeth does a cow have on top?
Quick answer: a cow has 12 teeth in total at the top. They all are the check teeth and divide into premolar and molar.
The right lateral half part of the cow’s upper jaw or top shows 3 premolar and 3 molar teeth. Thus, the upper jaw’s two halves (right and left) consist of 12 teeth.
Table 3 shows the number of teeth from the cow’s top or upper jaw –
|Cows top teeth||Right part of jaw||Left part of jaw|
The cow’s maxilla bone has alveolar sockets to accommodate the check teeth. You may learn the detailed anatomical facts of maxilla bone from cow skull –
How many teeth does a cow have on the bottom?
Quick answer: the cows have 20 teeth on the bottom or lower jaw. There are 8 incisors, 6 premolars, and 6 molars in the bottom jaw of a cow.
Thus, the right half of the lower jaw consists of 4 incisors, 3 premolar, and 3 molar teeth. There are no distinct differences between the upper and lower check teeth.
Do cows have canine teeth?
Quick answer: no, the cows have no typical canine teeth. However, the corner incisor is considered as the modified canine in cows.
Thus, some anatomists consider the fourth incisor as the canine. They express the permanent dental formula of a cow as follows –
2(I0/3C0/1P3/3M3/3) = 32
Where, I = permanent incisors, C = permanent canine, P = permanent premolar, and M = permanent molar).
How many molars does a cow have?
Quick answer: the cows have 12 molar teeth in both upper and lower jaws. A cow’s upper and lower jaws consist of 6 molars (3 on both sides).
The number of premolars in a cow is also similar to that of the molars. Here, the premolar and molar are placed laterally, called check teeth.
The check teeth progressively increase their size backward. Here, the cow’s first premolar is smaller than the other premolars.
The space occupied by premolars is only about one-half of that required for the posterior molars. You will find the prominent enamel on the masticatory or grinding surface of the premolar and molars.
The wolf teeth are absent in the cow’s lower or upper jaws. They are the rudimentary upper first premolar that is found in horses.
The crown of the premolars and molars of a cow consists of 5 surfaces –
- The outer surface (anterior): is the labial surface of the cow tooth,
- An inner surface (posterior): is the lingual surface of the cow tooth,
- Two contact surfaces: right and left lateral surfaces that come into contact with the corresponding surface of adjacent teeth and
- Grinding surface (upper): contacts with the similar surface of a tooth of the opposite jaw,
Here, the diagram shows the 5 different surfaces of the cow’s premolars and molars teeth.
Cow teeth diagram
This is the final diagram where I will show the number of deciduous and permanent teeth from the cows. Again, the diagram also shows the parts and types of cow’s teeth.
In the diagram, I also show the ideal structure of the cow’s incisors and cheek teeth. The longitudinal section of a cow tooth also represents all the features.
The enamel, dentin, cementum, root, and pulp cavity are identified from the cow tooth labeled diagram. Let’s find more diagrams and videos on the cow tooth here.
What is deciduous dental formula in a calf?
Quick answer: the calf has 20 deciduous teeth. The deciduous dental formula in a calf is –
2(DI0/4DC0/0DP3/3) = 20
(Here, DI = deciduous incisors, DC = deciduous canine, and DP = deciduous premolar).
The deciduous teeth are the temporary set of teeth replaced by the permanent set. These are also known as the milk teeth found at birth or within a few weeks after birth.
The last tooth of the rostral incisor ground resembles the other incisors. But, sometimes, it is called canine based on development and evolutionary stand point.
Cow teeth age: how to estimate the age?
The eruption of the teeth in a cow is subject to great variation. Here, I will provide the average eruption time of both permanent and deciduous teeth in the cows.
First, let’s see the average eruption time of the deciduous teeth from Table 4 –
|Deciduous teeth in calf||Eruption time|
|First deciduous incisor|
|Birth to 3 weeks|
|First check tooth (DP1)||Birth to 3 weeks|
|Second check tooth (DP2)|
Third check tooth (DP3)
|Birth to a few days|
Again, the cows need 5 months to four years to get the full set of permanent teeth. Let’s see the average eruption time of the permanent set of teeth in cows from Table 5 –
|Permanent teeth of ox||Eruption time|
|First incisor||1.5 – 2 years|
|Second incisor||2 – 2.5 years|
|Third incisor||3 years|
|Fourth incisor||3.5 – 4 years|
|First premolar||2 – 2.5 years|
|Second premolar||1.5 – 2.5 years|
|Third premolar||2.5 – 3 years|
|First molar||5 – 6 months|
|Second molar||1 – 1.5 year|
|Third molar||2 – 2.5 years|
Thus, you may easily estimate the age of the cows by observing their erupted teeth.
Cattle teeth vs other animal’s teeth
Table 6 shows the number of deciduous and permanent teeth from the cattle and other animals –
Heterodonty, thecodont, diphyodonty, and polyphyodonty in cattle teeth
Heterodonty: the cattle’s teeth develop differently to serve particular jobs. This type of arrangement is known as the heterodonty.
Thecodonty: the thecodonty means the teeth implantation in the alveolar sockets of the upper and lower jaws.
Diphyodonty: a deciduous set of teeth is replaced by the cattle’s permanent set of teeth. This characteristic of the cattle teeth is the diphyodonty.
Polyphyodonty: in some animals, several sets of teeth are formed throughout life. This type of feature of the animals’ teeth is the polyphyodont.
Questions and answers on cow teeth
Let’s enlist the most commonly asked questions on the cow teeth with their concise answer. But, you might go through the full guide to know the ideal features of cow’s teeth with numbers.
Let’s see the questions with quick answers on the cattle teeth –
How many sets of teeth does a cattle have?
Answer: cattle have 2 sets of teeth – deciduous and permanent set. Again, a cattle’s permanent set of teeth contains upper and lower sets of teeth.
The number of deciduous sets of teeth in cattle is 20. In contrast, the cattle have 32 permanent sets of teeth at both upper and lower jaws.
Do cows have 2 sets of teeth?
Answer: yes, the cows have 2 sets of teeth. You will find the deciduous teeth in the cows at birth or a few weeks after birth.
Again, the cows show a permanent set of teeth at 5 months to 4 years.
Do cows have only bottom teeth?
Answer: the cows have both the bottom and top sets of teeth. But, you will find the variation in the number of teeth in the bottom and top of the cows.
Here, the bottom means the lower jaw or mandibular incisive bone. However, the top means the teeth of the upper jaw bone (incisive bone).
Why do cows have 32 teeth?
Answer: the number of teeth in cows is less than those of the horses. The cows have 32 teeth, whereas the horses possess 40 or 42 teeth.
This is because of the absence of incisor teeth in the upper jaw of the cows. Thus, are 8 teeth in the cow’s dental formula compared to the horses.
How old is a 4 teeth cow?
Answer: if these 4 are deciduous teeth, the age will be 1 – 4 weeks. Again, if these 4 are permanent incisors, the cow is 3 – to 4 years old.
Here, the 4th incisor (modified canine) takes more time to erupt in the cow.
The cows have 32 permanent and 20 deciduous teeth in their jaws. Thus, you got your answer to the question – how many teeth does a cow have?
The external features of the cow’s incisors and check teeth are different. Thus, this might help you to count the number of teeth from the cow’s upper and lower jaws perfectly.