Sharks have between five and 15 rows of teeth in each jaw depending on the species. Because of their unique design and shape, shark teeth are often used for jewelry and decoration. Fake shark teeth sometimes serve as substitutes to real teeth for cost and ethical reasons. Learn the difference between real and fake shark teeth before you decide to buy any shark tooth product.
Real shark teeth were once part of a live shark. Throughout their lives, sharks grow new teeth to replace ones that fall out or become damaged. Most sharks will shed over 1,000 teeth in a lifetime. Shark teeth are composed of dentine and enamel. They fossilize quickly, making shark tooth fossils common ocean artifacts.
Fake shark teeth are replicas of real teeth. Fake teeth are man-made and were never part of a live shark. Fake teeth are made from a variety of different materials such as porcelain, glass, metal, plastic and rubber. They are made in to match the look, and sometimes the feel, of real shark teeth.
Shark teeth have a variety of uses, although they are primarily decorative. Shark teeth, both real and fake, adorn necklaces, bracelets and chains. Shark teeth decorations and accessories are generally used around Halloween to adorn homes and costumes.
There are four basic types of real shark teeth. Shark teeth vary according to the diet and feeding habits of the shark. Fish-eating sharks tend to have narrow, pointed teeth, while crustacean-eating sharks have thicker, flatter teeth used to crush hard shells. Sharp, serrated teeth are commonly found in mammal-eating sharks because they are ideal for ripping through flesh. Lastly, krill-eating sharks have small teeth that are rarely used due to the fish’s gentle nature.
Real shark teeth are cold to the touch. They tend to have distinctive grooves and small imperfections and can look dingy-colored. Fake teeth are generally bright white and flawless because they are made from plastic or porcelain and are slightly warm to the touch (or room temperature). Before buying a shark tooth product, research the type of tooth you wish to purchase and learn about its distinct characteristics. Also keep in mind that real teeth will be more expensive than fake teeth, so price is often an accurate indication as to what you are purchasing.
References and ResourcesShark Savers: Shark Teeth
Robert Gordon University: Sri Lankan Student Ben to Exhibit Grand Designs on Shark Teeth
ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research: A "Quick and Dirty" Guide to Fossil and Recent Shark Teeth