"Teef make da wurld go round!"
- —Old Ork adage
Orks use their teeth -- or rather, as they call them, "Ork Teef" or simply "Teef" -- as a form of species-wide currency. Used as money, Ork teeth form the entire basis of the Ork economy. The "teef" must be big, sharp, ivory-like fangs to have any value -- those of other intelligent races such as Humans or the Aeldari are just too fiddly and pathetic to have any real worth.
The Orks have used teeth as money since time immemorial. It is a natural form of currency, which is particularly useful as Orks shed and replace their teeth every few Terran years. Orks go through teeth in a similar manner to sharks, replacing them quite frequently, and Ork teeth do degrade over time, so it is impossible to hoard them. This keeps prices constant, ensures all Orks have at least some access to money, and allows constant values to be placed on commodities. This means that the number of teeth in circulation in a Greenskin economy never diminishes enough to create a shortage, and that no individual Ork can be reduced to dire poverty for too long.
As Ork teeth are grown and shed on a regular basis, every Ork has a stable source of income. In times of dire need an Ork can always ask a Painboy to extract a couple of teeth prematurely. The teeth of Greenskins of the Bad Moons klan grow faster than the teeth of Orks of any of the other klanz and they are known in Ork society as the richest members of the race, able to afford the biggest and best gunz. Some Orks make use of special Squigs to grow teeth and such Squigs are highly valued in Ork society, as one might imagine. However, if not intentionally destroyed, Ork teeth will eventually disintegrate and fall apart, making sure that even the richest Ork's hoard will eventually disappear. As a result, the concept of "savings" has little meaning in Greenskin society, and Orks have to spend their wealth fairly quickly or lose its value.
This simple approach to an issue most advanced civilisations agonise about is typical of the pragmatic attitude of the Ork race. A tooth will buy a good Squig pie and a tankard of fungus beer, while a bag of teeth will buy a cheap Warbuggy. A big flashy Battlewagon could cost a Warboss hundreds of teeth. This system also promotes the species' legendary aggression, as all an Ork needs to make more money is to knock teeth out of another Ork's head and then collect them for himself.
Ork teeth also have many uses beyond their role as Ork currency. When carved properly they retain an edge without blunting for many solar weeks, and their molecular composition means they can cut through many substances, including even thin sheets of steel. Ingesting certain compounds mixed with teeth can aid an Ork's already potent regenerative capabilities. Painboyz often use Ork teeth, crushed into a powder and mixed with various forms of fungi, as effective poultices intended to accelerate healing.
- Gorkamorka: Da Uvver Book (Game Supplement), pg. 12
- Codex: Orks (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), "The Simple Life," "Goffs," "Evil Sunz," "Bad Moons," "Mogdos Gilt-Toof," "Gork's Other Foot," "Freebooterz," "Kaptin Badrukk," "Grukk's Sanctus Raiders," "Gashrakk Da Flash," "Split-Grin Bad Moons," "The Green Tide - 987.M41, A Hundred, Hundred Teef"
- Codex: Orks (4th Edition), pg. 9
- Codex: Orks (2nd Edition), pg. 7
- Waaargh: Orks (1st Edition), pg. 77