What Are Excavator Teeth?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Excavator thumbs, which are attached to the end of the bucket, increase an excavator's grip and allow it to penetrate rock and hard soil.
Excavator thumbs, which are attached to the end of the bucket, increase an excavator's grip and allow it to penetrate rock and hard soil.

Excavator teeth are attachments for excavators and other digging equipment to increase their ability to penetrate soil and rock. They mount to the leading edge of the tool and act as grippers when the operator maneuvers the tool into the soil to dig out foundations, ditches and other areas. This component of an excavator can wear down quickly, and replacement teeth are available from many manufacturers of earth movers, excavators and similar equipment. They are often generic in shape and design, allowing operators to use teeth from different manufacturers if necessary.

Each excavator tooth is held in place with a pin-and-socket design. They are firmly fixed in place so that they do not wobble or bend while the excavator is in operation. Over time, the teeth tend to wear down, especially when they are used in hard, coarse materials. They also can become loose in the sockets and might start to shift in use. This might be a sign that the excavator teeth need to be replaced.

For replacement, the operator can pull out the pin to remove the tooth from the socket and replace it with a new model. The head attachment for the socket is often standardized, so it is possible to install excavator teeth of a slightly different design if necessary or if desired. Some designs might have advantages and disadvantages for various kinds of material, and the technician might find it useful to be able to change them out.

Used excavator teeth are available through suppliers of heavy equipment and accessories. They might have some wear, and in some cases, they are refurbished and repainted to resist rust before the company packages them for resale. Otherwise, new replacements are readily available. Technicians also can repair existing teeth, in some instances. It might be possible to resharpen bladed teeth, for instance, so that they will reacquire a cutting edge and be more useful in excavations.

It is important to be careful around excavator teeth, as some models are sharp and may be dangerous. They should be well cleaned and oiled periodically to remove any rust and debris. Technicians may also check the excavator to make sure all the teeth are firmly attached, without any wiggling, as loose teeth could pose a problem during a dig. In addition to teeth, it is possible to replace other elements such as excavator buckets if they become too worn for use, or if the operator wants to use a different attachment for a particular project.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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    • Excavator thumbs, which are attached to the end of the bucket, increase an excavator's grip and allow it to penetrate rock and hard soil.
      Excavator thumbs, which are attached to the end of the bucket, increase an excavator's grip and allow it to penetrate rock and hard soil.