Back in September 2014 I received a Great White shark jaw from an overseas client who had the jaw in his collection for quite a number of years.
Its condition was considered as average, although the majority of the cartilage was in good condition. A number of both upper and lower teeth were broken, and there was considerable yellowing of the gums, especially on the upper jaw. The upper jaw exhibited the usual cracking on the side.
The jaw was soaked over 2 days in water with some detergent, to somewhat soften the cartilage. Once the jaw was sufficiently softened, the jaw was removed and the broken teeth were removed, with the aim being to also remove the tooth at the back of the broken one, and make a cast of it, so that the cast tooth can be placed behind the real one at the front. However, I decided that some teeth I would leave broken, as the jaw would look more authentic.
The jaw was then placed in my whitening solution for about 3-4 days, where it softened sufficiently and whitened to the correct degree. Of course, the cracks got slightly larger due to the water entering the cartilage through the existing cracks. The jaw was then rinsed and allowed to just dry for about a day, before I placed it on the drying board.
I removed the jaw from the board once dried and examined it further to assess the damage the solution had done, and work out a strategy of what repairs needed to be carried out.
I decided that I would cast the teeth that would need to be replaced. The real teeth were placed on a piece of wood and numbered for the casting.
I then used a silicone putty for the mold. This allows to capture extremely fine detail, an important factor when casting such teeth. Great White shark teeth are especially difficult due to their minute serrations. That’s why it is important to use the right silicone for the job, otherwise the fine serrations will not be reproduced accurately.
The mold was allowed to cure overnight, before removing the teeth.
The mold then had the epoxy casting resin poured in to actually make the teeth themselves. I used a bright white resin, as the teeth would look less fake when placed in the jaw. In addition, this resin allows me to also tint the tooth itself to render it more lifelike.
The teeth were then coloured and sorted into their proper positions on the jaw.
The real teeth were placed at the front, while the cast teeth were placed in the second and sometimes third row of the jaw. I used a 2 part epoxy putty coloured similarly to the cartilage to place the teeth in the jaw.
The tissue around the real teeth needed to be reproduced so as it looked real. A combination of 2 part putty and colour enabled the teeth not only to be embedded, but also to have the tissue placed around them making them look as real as possible.
The teeth base required some very fine sanding and colour matching to ensure they did not look fake. Sometimes this is the critical stage in jaw preparation, as this takes the longest time to do. However the results always speak for themselves whenever you see a finished jaw.
Final stages of completion of the Great White shark jaw