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Shark's tooth
MFA# 1971.832


Scrimshawed whale's tooth
MFA# 2003.349

1) A hard, bone-like structure grown in the mouth of vertebrates. Teeth are composed of a soft center surrounded by hard Dentin primarily composed of Calcium hydroxyapatite with smaller amounts of Calcium carbonate, Calcium fluoride, Magnesium phosphate, and Ossein. The smooth outer surface is covered with hard, durable enamel. Animal teeth, such as from hippopotami, whales, lions, dogs, boars, and bears have been used to make gaming pieces, buttons, and jewelry. Once worked, it is difficult to tell teeth from tusks, Ivory and even Antler.

2) A textural description of a rough or absorbent surface.

Synonyms and Related Terms

1) teeth (plural); dent (Fr.); Zahn (Deut.); diente (Esp.); dente (It., Port.); Tänder (Sven.); tand (Dan., Ned.)

Physical and Chemical Properties

In cross section at high magnifications, teeth exhibit a honeycomb structure composed of interconnected horseshoe shapes

Resources and Citations

  • Hermann Kuhn, Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art and Antiquities, Butterworths, London, 1986
  • Oppi Untracht, Jewelry Concepts and Technology, Doubleday & Co., Inc., New York City, 1985
  • A. MacGregor, Bone, Antler, Ivory, and Horn, Croom Helm, London, 1985

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