Casting New Teeth
Why the "False Teeth"?
Orca teeth tend to dry out and crack when they’re no longer in a living animal. So the original teeth were removed after the necropsy, the position of each tooth was labeled and the originals were stored in containers of water to preserve them. Then, when the skeleton was brought to the Port Townsend Marine Science Center, our volunteers began the fascinating process of making synthetic replicas (fondly refered to as the “false teeth").
We had expert help along the way. A local dentist, a former professional moldmaker and sculptors in the community all provided guidance. Volunteers made silica rubber molds from the original teeth. They used these molds to cast an exact replica of each tooth from polyurethane.
To make the teeth look even more like the originals, we used dilute solutions of burnt sienna and black oil paint, lightly rubbing the colors onto the surface of the new teeth. This treatment gave an irregular, mottled appearance that perfectly matched the shades of original teeth.
Eventually each new tooth will be be mounted in its proper position in the skull.
Eliza Dawson has prepared an excellent manual for molding and casting orca teeth. You can download the manual here: Orca Tooth Molding and Casting Manual.
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