Do Sawfish Have Teeth? [Explained]

Yes, technically, it’s true that sawfish have teeth. The extended sawfish skull (chondrocranium) is named the rostrum, covered with mostly white teeth. Scientifically, these teeth are not actually teeth. They are modified placoid rostral scales covered by skin. Teeth size and numbers of sawfish vary with different species, gender, and age.

Sawfish teeth growth, numbers, and some more interesting facts will be discussed later on in this article. If sawfish teeth give you fun and you want to know more about them, you must continue reading.

Do Sawfish Have Teeth?

The extensive saw-like rostrum is the fundamental reason for naming the fish “sawfish.” Now in the saw-like rostrum, there are white teeth plugged in the same distance in pairs. The rostrum and teeth grow as the sawfish grow.

This growing process continues all over the sawfish life cycle. But sawfish can’t reproduce teeth. Once a tooth is lost, it is gone forever.

sawfish teeth

There are only a few sawfish left and in 2006, they were declared as moribund species. Now mainly 5 species are still living. The sharp-toothed marine creatures have two types depending on teeth: smalltooth and largetooth.

Smalltooth sawfish, also known as the common sawfish, Scyliorhinus canicula, is the most widespread species around the world.

They get their name from having slender teeth (placoid scale) that are relatively smaller than the teeth of other species. On the other side, largetooth sawfish (Pristidae) have wider, bolder teeth and typically live in shallow saltwater regions near mangroves and coral reefs.

Both species possess equal numbers of upper and lower tooth rows for crushing prey or digging for food–but only smalltooth sawfish have barbels on their snouts, which act as sensory organs in dark waters to help them detect prey.

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Regardless of size differences between them, these unique aquatic denizens share an impressive suite of characteristics that make them top predators in their respective habitats!

How Many Teeth Does a Sawfish Have in Its Mouth?

Sawfish are renowned for their impressive saw-like rostrum, but did you know that they also possess a full set of teeth in their mouth?

This species of shark has an incredible number of teeth – up to two hundred and fifty! While the exact amount varies depending on the species, age, and gender, most have 18-23 pairs of extending teeth.

Male sawfishes generally got more teeth than women. Where female sawfishes have a range of 18-20 pairs of teeth, male sawfish have 18-23 pairs (source).

Although similar to other sharks, sawfish have shorter and stronger teeth than most, making them perfectly suited for crushing hard-shelled prey like crabs and mollusks.

They may use their powerful jaws to search the ocean bottom for food, but they can also employ a sneak attack technique by slashing with the saw-like extension of their upper jaw.

Why Do Sawfish Have Teeth? How Does a Sawfish Use Its Teeth?

Sawfish are quite a fascinating species with a strange physical makeup. These fish have a saw-like rostrum or snout, which contains an array of protrusions called ‘teeth’. Sawfish teeth have well-served purposes.

These teeth are not for eating; rather, they serve as a tool for defense and to extract prey from the sandy ocean floor. For example, when sawfish feel threatened, they will sometimes use their rostrum to slash at the aggressor.


Similarly, if the fish is looking for buried prey such as crabs and clams, it can use its teeth to separate sand in order to uncover hidden morsels of food.

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Despite appearances, sawfish are not related to sharks and rays—they are technically a type of ray-finned fish that inhabit coastal waters in tropical and subtropical regions around the world!


Are sawfish teeth sharp?

Yes, sawfish teeth are sharp, and they use these to tear apart their prey when hunting. Tough sawfishes don’t attack humans. You will not believe that only one case of attacking humans is recorded; however, sawfishes look vicious with sharp teeth.

Do sawfish teeth grow back?

No, sawfish teeth do not grow back. The denticles on their rostrum are permanent and stay with the fish throughout its life. Even sawfish rostrum teeth grow throughout all their lifespan. But if they lose a tooth in a fight or by accident it will be lost.

What is the lifespan of small tooth sawfish?

The smalltooth sawfish has an estimated life span of thirty-forty years. In captivity, they have been known to live longer than this. Small tooth sawfishes achieve their sexual maturity at the age of 7-12 years. Male sawfishes tend to have sexual adulting faster than females.


All in all, the sawfish is an interesting and unique species – and the fact that they have modified teeth adds to their wonder of them. Sawfish’s teeth are not actually true teeth, but instead, denticles found on their rostrum.

They use these modified tooth-like structures to detect and dig the prey out of hiding places in their marine habitats.

Despite their remarkable adaptation, sawfish are still considered endangered due to overfishing, destruction of coral reefs, and loss of habitat. For this reason, it’s important for us to learn about them and actively work towards protecting this vulnerable species before it is too late.

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Thankfully, there are plenty of research opportunities and resources available from various wildlife conservation organizations which we can utilize to understand these creatures better.

Hopefully, more people will come together to support their efforts so that we can ensure the preservation of this fascinating creature for generations to come.

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