Fluoride Action Network

Abstract

Fluoride is an effective agent for the prevention of dental caries. However, the mechanism of how excessive fluoride exposure causes fluorosis remains uncertain. Zebrafish (Danio rerio) exhibit periodic tooth replacement throughout their lives, thereby providing continuous access to teeth at developmental stages susceptible to fluoride exposure. Zebrafish teeth do not contain true enamel, but consist of a hard enameloid surface. Therefore, we asked whether zebrafish could be used as a model organism for the study of dental fluorosis. Scanning electron microscopy of fluoride-treated teeth demonstrated that the enameloid was pitted and rough, and FTIR analysis demonstrated that the teeth also contained a significantly higher organic content when compared with untreated controls. Furthermore, we demonstrate for the first time that decreased expression of an important signaling molecule (Alk8) in tooth development may contribute to the observed fluorotic phenotype, and that increased cell apoptosis may also play a role in the mechanism of fluorosis.