How Many Teeth Do Sharks Have In A Lifetime: Why, How, Detailed Facts


When we hear of sharks, we immediately think of their razor-sharp teeth. And thanks to several shark movies, the teeth of this aquatic species have become their infamous trait.

Sharks’ jaws can contain anywhere from 5 to 15 rows of teeth, with the bull shark boasting roughly 50 rows altogether. To put it another way, you may also find some sharks having 50,000 teeth in their lifespan.

Sharks do not get all of their teeth simultaneously, but they do produce them throughout their lives. They can, however, have up to 300 teeth at different times throughout their lives.

Image Credit: Sea Shark Teeth from Maxpixel

Why do sharks have so many teeth?

Sharks are frequently and infamously stereotyped in pop culture due to the appearance of their teeth. However, it’s always fascinating to discover why these fishes have so many teeth.

Sharks and rays are elasmobranches, and their skeletons are designed in such a way that they have so many teeth. In other words, because none of their teeth is anchored into bones, these fishes require additional teeth. Because a shark’s body is mostly formed of cartilages, the teeth do not become anchored inside and are prone to falling out.

However, it is unknown why sharks have such a large number of teeth. However, marine experts believe that sharks’ teeth play a role in their underwater survival.

Types of shark teeth

Image Credit: Fossils of shark teeth by wurliburli from Pixabay

Sharks indeed have a large number of teeth. And although we may not fully know why they have so many teeth, we can explore the teeth types.

Sharks have distinctively formed teeth that can be categorized into four types based on their shape:

Flattened teethSharks that hang out along the seafloor have flattened plate-like teeth that can crush oysters, snails, crabs, and mussels, among other things.
Long needle-like teethLong needle-like teeth aren’t seen in all sharks. And sharks that do possess them may readily hold slippery fish with these teeth.
Pointed teethThe great white shark’s jaws are packed with sharp teeth used to slash through other creatures.
Tiny non-functional teethWhale sharks have around 3000 small teeth that aren’t useful. These teeth aren’t very useful because they swallow their food whole.
Types of shark teeth

It’s worth noting that not all sharks have the same types of teeth. These fishes tend to have teeth due to their diet and feeding style. While a shark hunts for fishes, and large prey may have enormous, intimidating teeth, smaller sharks may have a filtering mechanism that needs fewer smaller teeth rows.

How do sharks have so many teeth?

Image Credit: Underwater shark from Pxhere

Thanks to the movies like Jaws, we have been pushed to the apex of thinking sharks as monstrous predators. But how can they get such a large number of teeth?

Sharks can acquire so many teeth because their teeth continue to fall out throughout their lifetimes. Since sharks have no bones in their bodies, their teeth don’t get rooted properly and snap off readily. As a result, these fishes may sprout multiple teeth at once inside their mouths to compensate.

That being said, when a tooth on the jaw’s margin falls out, the tooth in the row behind it pushes forward to take its place.

How many teeth can sharks have at any particular time?

Sharks have been there for over half a billion years, and their lovely glossy teeth have evolved to fit their environment.

The majority of sharks have five sets of teeth, with up to 3000 teeth at any given moment! Sharks lose up to 100 teeth per day, so it’s a positive thing they never run out of teeth. However, it’s the breed that determines the number of teeth a shark has at any given time. 

Let’s use an example: a great white shark has 50 (functioning) teeth at any given time. There are specific shark species, on the other hand, that have 300 teeth at various stages of growth in their jaws at any given time! 

On average, how many teeth can sharks have?

The fascinating thing about sharks is that they keep losing and regrowing their teeth throughout their lifetime. But how many teeth do they have on average?

On the other hand, a shark might have 50 to 300 teeth. For example, in a frilled shark you can find around 300 teeth, curved-backward, each with two additional sharp cusplets that aid in the ripping apart of its meal. The specific number of teeth, on the other hand, varies among shark species.

As previously indicated, these fish lose teeth regularly and replace them with rapidly growing new ones. To put it another way, sharks can be referred to as tooth-producing machines.

Do sharks have molars?

Image Credit: An open-mouthed shark from Pxhere

Sharks tend to have a whopping number of teeth and keep on regrowing them throughout their lifetimes. But do they have molars like other mammals?

Unlike humans and other mammals, Sharks do not have molars or incisors. Shark teeth are generally the same shape, with diameters ranging across the mouth. Each shark has various teeth sizes, making it easier to distinguish across species.

Sharks and the number of teeth they possess

Sharks come in 553 distinct species worldwide. And when it comes to their teeth, they’re all quite fascinating.

Here, we have listed some commonly found shark species along with the number of teeth they possess.

Shark Species NameNumber of TeethShark Species Description
Great White SharkApproximately 20,000 teeth throughout their lifetime.Great white sharks, often known as killer sharks, are the most fearsome of all sharks, with approximately 20,000 teeth throughout their lifetime. However, they only use 50 at a point in time.
Tiger Shark Tiger sharks have a total of 24 teeth rows.Tiger sharks, often known as “tigers,” have distinctive teeth shorter than those of great white sharks. Tiger sharks have a total of 24 teeth rows.
Sand SharkThese sharks tend to have 3-4 rows of teeth, totaling more than 150.Sand sharks are also popularly known as sand tiger sharks or grey nurse sharks. These sharks tend to have 3-4 rows of teeth, totaling more than 150.
Shortfin Mako SharkShortfin Mako Sharks have 12 rows of knife-like sharp teeth.Shortfin Mako Sharks have 12 rows of knife-like sharp teeth.
Bull SharkBull sharks have a total of 50 rows of teeth, divided into seven series, totaling 350 teeth.Bull sharks have a total of 50 rows of teeth, divided into seven series, totaling 350 teeth, including both active teeth and “substitutions.” As a result, they’re considered one of the world’s most lethal sharks.
Goblin SharkThese sharks have 60 to 115 teeth, with the upper jaw having 35-53 teeth and the lower jaw having 31-62 teeth.Without a doubt, goblin sharks have a nightmare-like appearance. These sharks have 60 to 115 teeth, with the upper jaw having 35-53 teeth and the lower jaw having 31-62 teeth.
Hammerhead SharkThey feature a hammer-like head with different teeth (numbers) depending on the species.We’ve all seen hammerhead sharks on television, if not in reality. They feature a hammer-like head with different teeth (numbers) depending on the species.
Whale SharkThis species can have over 300 rows of small, sharp, and backward-pointing teeth.Whale sharks have the most teeth of any shark. This species can have over 300 rows of small, sharp, and backward-pointing teeth at any given time.
Basking SharkThis shark has more than 100 teeth per row on average.Basking sharks have the most inquisitive appearance of any shark. This shark has more than 100 teeth per row on average.
Megamouth Shark50 rows of teeth on their top jaw and up to 75 rows on their bottom jaw.Megamouth sharks have up to 50 rows of teeth on their top jaw and up to 75 rows on their bottom jaw.
Sharks and the number of teeth they possess

How many teeth did Megalodon have?

Image Credit: Fossilized tooth of Megalodon by janeb13 from Pixabay

Megalodon was once the apex predator of the marine world. This extinct monster drew human attention not only just for its expansive size but also because of its colossal teeth.

Megalodon’s teeth were estimated to measure roughly 18 centimeters long based on the fossils discovered. The word megalodon means ‘big teeth.’ Megalodon’s mouth was estimated to be 2.7 by 3.4 meters wide, with a bite force ranging from 108,514 to 182,201 Newtons (N).

What shark has the most teeth?

The staggering dagger-like teeth in sharks cannot be ignored. But it is intriguing to explore which is the toothiest shark on the planet?

The whale shark has around 3000 teeth in its mouth, making it the toothiest shark on the planet.

Summary

That concludes the discussion. We’ve put together a comprehensive list of some fascinating shark teeth facts. These creatures are truly fascinating, and their teeth play a significant role in making them so. However, before passing judgment on these sharp-toothed animals, it’s a good idea to look into the function and structure of their teeth.

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