Prepare Your Specimens

Simple instructions that identify what deer teeth to extract, how to extract them, and how to prepare your deer teeth for shipment to Matson’s Lab.

Identifying The Correct Tooth Type Matters

Matson's Standard Tooth Types

Not all teeth are created equal. Each animal species has a standard tooth type that Matson’s has the most experience aging. By extracting the correct tooth type for each animal species you submit, you are ensuring that you will receive the most accurate results possible.

Please consult the following information for each species you plan to submit in order to identify the teeth you should extract.

Hoofed Mammals

White-tailed deer jaw with tooth types labeled

Middle Incisor
The middle incisor teeth (I1) at the front of the jaw.

Bears

Black bear jaw with first premolars highlighted

1st Premolar
The first premolar (PM1), is located directly behind the canine.

Most Carnivores

Carnivore (bobcat) jaw with canine highlighted

Lower Canine
Please see the PDF below for information on martens, fishers, and mountain lions.

Click here to download this information in a PDF.

How Do I Extract Teeth From My Deer Or Other Species

Please follow the instructions below and watch the videos that demonstrate how to properly extract teeth. If possible, please extract the two teeth that correspond to the standard tooth type for your game species as indicated above. We reserve the second tooth as a backup for each animal.

Fresh Jaw Extraction

Teeth are most easily extracted from a freshly harvested animal. These extractions can be done at home or in the field.

Use a sharp knife to cut down through the gum tissue on both sides of the tooth. Be very careful not to cut into the tooth root itself.

Use the back of the knife to gently pry the tooth forward and out of the jaw.

An alternative method is to grasp the tooth with pliers at the base of the crown where it meets the gumline and pull firmly with a gentle twisting motion. Be careful not to grasp too hard on the crown itself, as this will result in breaking the crown and making it more difficult to extract the tooth. Also, be careful not to twist too much or you risk breaking off the root tip which is very important for aging.

Remove the front two teeth, which are the first incisors (I1’s) for deer and other ungulates. Allow the teeth to dry inside a labeled paper envelope. If possible, please send in two teeth.

Carnivore teeth can be extracted using the same procedure. Please refer to the section above that identifies standard tooth types for other species.

Dried Jaw Extraction

If you are concerned about damaging the teeth, Matson’s will gladly extract the teeth for you. However, an additional fee will be charged for each jaw extraction and shipping costs will be applied if you wish the jaw returned.

Tools needed for extracting teeth from deer jaws

Dried jaws must be soaked in hot water before the teeth can be extracted. Allow the jaw to soak until the teeth can be easily extracted. If the teeth feel difficult to extract, let them soak longer. Soaking lengths can greatly vary depending on jaw condition. Please follow these soaking instructions:

Ungulates (deer jaws and other hoofed animal jaws)
Soak jaws in water heated to 167-176 °F (75-80 °C)

Bears and other carnivores
Soak jaws in water heated to 130-140 °F (55-60 °C)

To avoid potential damage to the teeth, please do not exceed these temperature ranges.

Grasp the tooth with pliers at the base of the crown where it meets the gumline and pull firmly with a gentle twisting motion. Be careful not to grasp too hard on the crown itself, as this will result in breaking the crown and making it more difficult to extract the tooth. Also, be careful not to twist too much or you risk breaking off the root tip which is very important for aging.

Remove the correct teeth and allow them to dry inside a labeled paper envelope. If possible, please send in two teeth.

Please refer to the section above that identifies standard tooth types for other species.

IMPORTANT:

DO NOT break the root tip while removing the tooth.

DO NOT boil or bleach teeth. Please note on tooth envelopes if teeth are coming from a prepared skull. Boiling or bleaching a skull usually causes minimal damage to teeth as long as they remain intact, but we like to be aware in case there is damage.

DO NOT include any undried soft tissue (gum tissue, muscle, hide) with the tooth.

DO NOT send entire ungulate jawbones. We only need the front incisors and, as long as the incisors are intact, the molar bars are unnecessary.

DO NOT package teeth or jaws in plastic. This prevents them from completely drying and leads to rot and decay.

The root tip portion of the tooth contains the best cementum for aging and is crucial for obtaining the most accurate age. Please preserve the full length of the tooth when extracting from the jaw.

With your teeth successfully extracted, you are now ready to ship your teeth!

Instructional Extraction Videos

Please refer to these videos for further help. If you have questions or need to extract from a live animal, please contact us.
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