Human enamel development of the permanent teeth takes place during childhood and stresses encountered during this period can have lasting effects on the appearance and structural integrity of the enamel. One of the most common examples of this is the development of dental fluorosis after childhood exposure to excess fluoride, an elemental agent used to increase enamel hardness and prevent dental caries. Currently the molecular mechanism responsible for dental fluorosis remains unknown; however, recent work suggests dental fluorosis may be the result of activated stress response pathways in ameloblasts during the development of permanent teeth. Using fluorosis as an example, the role of stress response pathways during enamel maturation is discussed.
Keywords: ameloblast; amelogenesis; enamel; endoplasmic reticulum stress; fluorosis; unfolded protein response.