The effect of perinatal TCDD exposure on caries susceptibility in rats

Toxicol Sci. 2006 Jun;91(2):568-75. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfj158. Epub 2006 Mar 16.


2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), the model compound of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and furans, is a potent toxicant with the ability to hamper development. Accidental exposure to TCDD has been linked with various developmental dental aberrations in humans, and experimentally it has been shown that TCDD causes, among other defects, hypomineralization of dental hard tissues in rodents. Here, we studied the effect of very low perinatal TCDD exposure on dental caries susceptibility and mineral composition of tooth enamel in rats. Pregnant line C rats (rat line developed in our laboratory) were dosed 0.03-1.0 microg/kg TCDD on gestation day 15 and allowed to give birth and nurse until weaning on postnatal day 21. The offspring were challenged with cariogenic treatment including sugar-rich diet and three inoculations with Streptococcus mutans. Control groups involved animals with or without cariogenic challenge or TCDD treatment. The number of caries lesions in left lower molars was determined by Schiff's staining after 8 weeks of weaning. TCDD treatment increased cariogenic lesions in the enamel at the lowest maternal dose used, 0.03 microg/kg, and at the highest maternal dose, 1 microg/kg, the lesions extended through the enamel to dentin more frequently. Changes in mineral composition measured by electron probe microanalyzer, scanning electron microscopy, and energy-dispersive spectrometry could not explain the increased caries susceptibility. In conclusion, perinatal TCDD exposure can render rat molars more susceptible to caries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Drug-Induced
  • Animals
  • Dental Caries
  • Dental Enamel / chemistry
  • Dentin / chemistry
  • Diet, Cariogenic
  • Disease Susceptibility / chemically induced*
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity
  • Female
  • Male
  • Minerals / analysis
  • Molar / abnormalities
  • Molar / drug effects*
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins / toxicity*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Minerals
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins