Have you ever wondered, what are shark teeth made of? Is that related to its structure and eating habits? Sharks are present in the oceans for centuries. However, they have developed over time, according to the changing environment, habitat, and surroundings. And presently, more than 1000 shark species are swimming across the oceans of the earth with varied features. But did you know that these sharks have a cartilaginous skeleton? It means that these giant fishes are boneless and their whole body is made up of cartilages only. Moreover, they are considered deadly because of their biting power and several rows of teeth in their jaws. But what are shark teeth made of, do they differ among different species or how many teeth do hammerhead sharks have? Let’s find it all.
1. Do Sharks shed Teeth?
Sharks continuously lose their teeth almost 25000 or more teeth in a lifespan. They tend to replace their teeth that are no longer of use. A tooth might fall within a week or may take months. Similarly, the growth of a new tooth can take a week or longer, up to ten days. In some shark species, an entire row of teeth is replaced at once as seen in Cookie cutter sharks. While in most of the other species, one tooth at a time is replaced. To understand the concept better, continue reading to know what are shark teeth made of. (Also read Do Anteaters Eat Ants?)
2. Why do Sharks shed Teeth?
- Since shark teeth are not fixed into the jaw like other fishes and are only attached to the gums, they can easily be shed because of the absence of roots in the gums.
- Additionally, being carnivorous makes their teeth fall out easily as tearing flesh is a part of their daily prey. So, without roots, teeth loosen up fast and fall off.
Hence, their teeth move inside the gums to replace the fallen one, just like a conveyor belt moving things forward. (Also read Why do sharks attack humans?)
3. What Different Types of Teeth does a Shark have?
Though all sharks are carnivores, their kind of prey is the reason for the diversity in their teeth shapes and also for what are shark teeth made of. Also, check out what to do if a shark approaches you.
- The sharks that feed on plankton and other such things have small and non-functional teeth. For example, Whale sharks are one of them.
- The one feeding on mollusks (like clams, large shellfish, etc.) and crustaceans (like prawns, crabs, shrimps, lobsters, etc.) need teeth for crushing purposes. Thus, they have flattened teeth, for example, Nurse sharks.
- Sharks feeding on other fishes, big or small have needle-like teeth for gripping. For example, Bull sharks are one of them.
- Also, some sharks have pointed lower teeth for gripping and triangular upper teeth edges like a saw(tool) for biting their huge prey, like mammals seen in Great white sharks. (Also read What Is the Funny Bone Nerve?)
4. What are Shark Teeth made of?
Shark teeth are made of a very tough material known as Calcium Phosphate (CaP), which is a highly biocompatible inorganic biomaterial. This material is the main component mineral that is found in humans’ bones and teeth. The surface of their teeth contains 100% fluoride which is an active ingredient found in most of our mouthwashes and toothpaste. It prevents their teeth from cavities. (See How to Evade a Shark Attack?)
5. How many Teeth do Sharks have?
Now you know what are shark teeth made of and their functions. But do you know the number of teeth they have? Generally, the number of teeth depends on the type and characteristics of sharks and most of them can have thousands of teeth in their whole life span. For instance, some may just have 300 teeth while others can have up to 3000 teeth at once. Additionally, a huge number of teeth is not the only part that is deadly but their rows of teething too. They can have 5 to 15 rows of teeth in each jaw, i.e., upper and lower jaw, which depends on their type and the kind of prey they eat. For example, bull sharks have 50 rows of teeth with 7 teeth in each row. (Also read Number of Bones in Human Body Male vs Female)
6. How many Teeth do Hammerhead Sharks have?
As the name says, their head is flattened and extended laterally into a shape like a hammer. This kind of head structure is known as cephalofoil (outward extensions of the hammerhead shark). This shark is one of the distinct creatures of the world and just like all other sharks they also have several rows with many teeth. However, on average a great hammerhead shark can have 17 rows of teeth in its upper and lower jaw. (Also read How Fast Are Crocodiles on Land?)