Lesion scoring in field vole teeth: Application to the biological monitoring of environmental fluoride contamination

I. C. Boulton, J. A. Cooke, M. S. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The relationship between fluoride-induced lesions, measured using an incremental scoring system, and fluoride concentration was investigated in the teeth of the field vole (Microtus agrestis). Both the magnitude of lesion score and the severity of observed lesions in both incisor and molar teeth was correlated with the respective tissue fluoride concentration. This relationship was observed not only in animals trapped from sites contaminated by industrial fluorides, but also those bred and maintained under laboratory conditions and consuming fluoride in either diet or drinking water. Although some variation occurred between held and laboratory animals as to the mean fluoride concentrations in the incisor or molar for each specific lesion score, this may result in part from differences in the nature of the assimilable fluoride in laboratory diets compared to those consumed by wild animals. The practical application of the relationship between dental lesion score and tissue fluoride concentration To monitoring environmental fluoride contamination is discussed. Because the incisor and molar teeth of the field voles are open-rooted and grow throughout life, they are sensitive to even minor temporal changes in fluoride concentration in tissue fluids and blood and, by inference, in the dirt and the environment. Therefore, assessment of visual lesions in the dentition of wild-caught field voles may provide the basis of a scheme to monitor the magnitude and effects of environmental fluoride contamination on populations of wild and domestic mammals. The development of non-destructive methods to allow the repeated examination of the teeth of captured field voles, and hence the dynamic monitoring of environmental fluoride contamination, is also considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-422
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 7 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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