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Wondering how many teeth sharks have may seem like an odd topic for a paddle boarding website, but as we were writing the post about whether you can paddle board in the ocean – the topic of sharks came up. So we went down the shark research rabbit hole and landed here.
Many people take one look at sharks, see a mouth full of dangerously sharp teeth, and immediately have fear take over. Sharks are viewed as dangerous not simply because of their strength but because of that massive mouth packed full of razor-sharp teeth.
So, how many teeth do sharks actually have in those mouths? Well, surprisingly that answer varies depending on the type of shark. Continue to read in order to sharpen your knowledge about shark teeth. Get ready to make a whole new wave of fin-tastic discoveries
How Many Teeth Do Sharks Have?
The simple answer is that the number of teeth a shark has all depends greatly on the type of shark. On average, a shark can have upwards of 350 or more teeth in their mouth at any given time but can also have many more! However, only around a fraction of those teeth are actually active, or “working” teeth. Some sharks like the Great White can have 3,000 teeth!
Mouthful Of Teeth But Always Losing Them
Could you imagine having a mouthful of razor sharp teeth but you are always losing them? Well, this is what happens when it comes to a sharks’ mouth. They may look like they have a strong powerful mouth full of hundreds of killer teeth; however, sharks are constantly losing those teeth. While those teeth are extremely sharp, in most types of sharks, they still lose them over time.
The one commonality in all sharks is that all sharks have teeth, as well as, several different rows of teeth. These powerful underwater creatures possess rows of teeth both on their upper and lower jaws. The teeth line both jaws in order for them to be able to bite onto their prey and shred it apart in the water. Sharks have a large number of teeth inside of their mouths. The ones on the outside are what some call the “working’ teeth. The number of these teeth varies but is around 50 teeth that are used to catch food. There are many teeth behind those front teeth though! This is where the sharks’ rows of teeth come in handy.
How Do Shark Teeth Work?
Sharks are unique in that they do not just have teeth that are visible at first glance. As previously mentioned, sharks have different rows of teeth layered within their mouth. Sharks have their main teeth, also referred to as their “working” teeth, as well as teeth that are in development.
These teeth are located behind the “working” teeth and are basically on standby waiting to replace teeth as they fall out. Humans have teeth that have roots and sit inside of sockets inside of the mouth. Shark teeth are different because they do not have roots and instead of a nice tight socket for the teeth, shark teeth are actually only attached to the jaw by a soft tissue. The teeth are in a constant state of growing. The jaws are completely lined with teeth.
Once a tooth on the edge of the jaw falls out of the mouth the tooth in the row behind the lost tooth moves forward in order to replace it. This is a unique feature because it allows for worn or broken teeth to fall out and be replaced by sharper and stronger teeth.
Because sharks are constantly rotating new teeth into their mouths it is estimated that the average shark can have approximately 50,000 teeth during their lifetime. Again, these teeth are able to fall out so easily because they are not rooted. The soft tissue on the jaw line lets go of the worn or broken tooth and then it goes into the ocean. This is why finding a shark tooth washed up on a beach is not so uncommon!
Different Shark; Different Teeth
While all sharks are very similar when it comes to the number of teeth they have inside of their mouths; the number will tend to vary slightly depending on the species of shark. In general, most sharks have at least two to three rows of teeth.
However, there are some types of sharks that have as many as 15 rows of teeth on each of their upper and lower jaws. An exception to this average is the famous Bull shark. The Bull shark has upwards of 50 rows of teeth with 7 teeth in each averaging around 350 teeth in their mouth at one time.
Great White Sharks
On average, great white sharks have around 300 serrated triangular teeth that line their mouths. Additionally, it has been estimated that great whites have the ability to have upwards of 3,000 teeth at one time because of the five rows of teeth lining their mouths.
While there is no definitive answer out there for how many teeth a hammerhead shark has these sharks do have 17 rows of teeth on both sides of their upper jaws and two to three on the midline jaw. Additionally, they have around 16-17 teeth on either side of the lower jaw followed by 1-3 at the midline lower jaw.
A close relative to the great white shark, the Mako shark has 12-13 rows of teeth on their upper jaw and 11-12 rows on their lower jaws. These teeth are typically long, thin, and sharp with a slight tilt.
While there is also no definitive answer to the exact number of teeth the Lemon shark does have 27-33 rows of teeth in each jaw. They have 3-5 rows. These teeth are extremely sharp but are curved rather than the traditional straight up and down shark tooth.
The nurse shark is slightly different from others because they tend to only have a single row of teeth. They have around 3–42 upper teeth and 28-34 lower teeth. These teeth are small and serrated best for crushing their usual hard-shelled prey.
Who Has the Most Teeth?
With so many different types of sharks, many wonder which one has the most teeth? The shark with the most teeth is the Whale shark. These guys are the largest shark with rows of over 300 teeth coming in at upwards of 3,000 teeth at any time on each jaw.
However, they are much smaller than other shark teeth and are not used for feeding but more filtering through for their food. These teeth are actually so small they can be hard to see in the mouth. Quite different from their counterparts the Great Whites!
Various Types of Teeth
In addition to the varying number of teeth in a sharks’ mouth; sharks also have different shaped teeth depending on their diet. While most sharks do tend to have the well recognized sharp pointed teeth there are some types of sharks that have much smaller teeth more fit for cracking shells or filtering rather than chomping. For more fun shark teeth facts be sure to check out these links
Sharks Are Fin-tastic
Overall, sharks have an incredibly impressive amount of teeth in their mouth at any given time; with the average shark having around 350 teeth. As discussed earlier, these teeth are constantly being worked to catch prey, falling out, and quickly being replaced by the developing teeth in the rows behind them. This allows the sharks to always have a rotating supply of sharp teeth in order to catch prey and survive. Now, the next time you find a shark tooth washed ashore during a trip to the beach, you can try and guess what shark it may have belonged too!