Lions have 30 adult teeth that are composed of 12 incisors, four canines, 10 premolars and four molars. The permanent teeth of a lion begin to break through the gums at 3 months of age and continue to develop until age 13 to 15 months.
Among mammals, 20 to 40 adult teeth is average. Marsupials generally have 30 to 50 teeth. Non-mammal animals that eat insects tend to have even more. The canine teeth of the lion are designed to sever the spinal cord of prey by wedging between the cervical vertebrae; the teeth also shear meat away from bone during feeding. A lion's jaws can only move vertically and can exert approximately 690 pounds of force.