We realize this isn’t what you were expecting.

However, one of our team members recently took a Lyft ride and during what they swear was a sensible conversation at the time, was informed by their driver that camels have flesh teeth.


So we did a little research and learned quite a bit about camels and in particular their “oral papillae,” the scientific name for their flesh teeth. Yup, they’re real.

The Mouth

Camels mouths are terrifying pits of fear, darkness, and cacti. Their jaws and teeth are strong enough to break wood, they can easily and painlessly eat cacti, and they have an insane power for projectile spit and vomit. Ew.

The Teeth

You can tell the age of a camel by how many teeth they have in their mouth at any given time up until they are seven years old! By the time they are six months old they have four front teeth, two canines, and five cheek teeth (we’ll talk more about these later) on each side. From the time they are one year old to seven years old, camels have 34 permanent teeth that grow in, their milk teeth fall out and their “milk cheek teeth” turn black as they grow more. In total camels have eight front teeth, four canines, and 22 cheek teeth. After they turn 15 years old, there is so much wear on their teeth, they often begin to struggle eating hard food.

Oral Papillae

Also known as flesh teeth or cheek teeth are quite a sight to behold. If you can’t quite picture it yet in your minds eye, no worries, we couldn’t either. You know that weird feeling you get when you have a canker sore and the skin inside your cheek feels kinda… flappy? Now imagine if you had eleven of those flappy spots on the inside of each cheek! It gives us the heebie jeebies too.

So what’s up? Why would camels ever need such things? What purpose do they serve? Can they like… not?

Turns out they have to. In addition to being biological fact, camels need their papillae to survive in their environment. They are often firm and stiff due to the keratinized nature of larger papillae. What does that mean? That means that a camel’s papillae are made up as the same stuff as our fingernails and hair, making it stiff and relatively immovable. This serves two purposes: one, to work as extra muscles helping larger, harder chunks of wood and cacti actually go down their throat and two, protect the vulnerable parts of the inside of their mouth from these same hard foods.

Not Just Camels

Are you ready for the news we’re about to rock your world with? Camels aren’t the only animal with oral papillae. Many animals have them in varying sizes, including humans! If you’re running your tongue frantically around your mouth wondering where the heck your oral papillae are, the answer is: on your tongue! That’s right, not all papillae are taste buds but your taste buds definitely are a form of papillae! Albeit, smaller, softer, less scary ones.

Also, just an additional fun fact, sea turtles have big papillae like camels! Why? Because they have no teeth! Like birds, turtles have beaks. They also have firm papillae lining the inside of their throat so that whatever food they swallow can’t crawl back up. We’re full of frightening facts today, we know.

Come to Chess & Taub Family Dentistry to have your whole family of not camels have their not flesh teeth checked out! Call today to schedule an appointment for you and yours to have your beautiful, hard, structured teeth cleaned.