How Teeth Are Used As Currency in One Country

Your teeth are valuable to you because they allow communication and chewing. However, throughout history, and even today in some parts of the world, certain teeth have had monetary value as currencies.

Currency in the Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands, a string of over 900 islands, lies east of Papua New Guinea and northeast of Australia in the Pacific Ocean. This nation’s main source of currency is now the Solomon Islands dollar (SI$), but they have also accepted Australian dollars, long strings of polished and colored shells, and dolphin teeth as money.

Shell Money

Though shell money has declined in usage across Asia, it remains an important part of the islanders cultural practices through bridal gifts and at funerals. The Solomon Islands Women’s Shell Money Association also creates jewelry from shell money to celebrate this long-standing tradition. Unfortunately, unlike the culturally unique shell money, the Solomon Islands’ other currency used in rural commerce isn’t so appealing to environmentalists.

Closeup of the head of a smiling gray dolphin in clear blue water

Dolphin Teeth

Since the 1960s, thousands of dolphins have been killed every year in the Solomon Islands to use their teeth as currency and as adornment. In the midst of the global Great Recession, when mainstream currencies like the dollar, yen, and euro suffered losses, the dolphin tooth increased in value five-fold. Henry Sukufatu, a dolphin-hunter of the Solomon Islands, turns down money from conservationists because, “The white man’s money will end, but the dolphin teeth will always be there for us.” Although dolphins are not endangered in this part of the world, there is a very real concern of the species being over-exploited.

The Value of Your Smile

Unfortunately, most species can’t protect their teeth like you can. And although your teeth are not used as currency in the United States, we see the value of your smile at Toothology Dental. In our March blog post, we noted the links between oral health and overall health; your smile can affect a host of non-dental aspects of your body. In his TED Talk, “The Hidden Power of Smiling”, Ron Gutman outlines some of the powers of a smile; it can improve your mood, your health, and the way that you appear to others! Our team has a vested interest helping you get the smile of your dreams so you can enjoy a healthy and happy life.

Come See Us at Toothology Dental!

We are proud to offer a full range of high-quality dental care for the whole family, from routine check-ups to smile makeovers and restorative dentistry. Call us today so we can help you get the most out of your smile.

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