|Contribution||b. Described microorganisms (probably bacteria) in the scurf of human teeth.|
|Notes||In letter (in Dutch) of 17 September 1683; published in 1684. Brock reprints an 1684 English abstracts; Dobell, 1932, gives his own full translation. Bardell provides important perspective (Bardell, D., Microbiological Reviews 47:121-126, 1982). Descriptions and drawings strongly suggest that the organisms were what would later be called bacteria. They were found in matter taken from his own teeth and the teeth of others, and probably were found as a consequence of Leeuwenhoek's strong interest in keeping his teeth clean (Bardell, 1982). The drawings, published in several variant forms, are widely understood to represent bacilli, cocci, and spirochetes. Those regarded as cocci, however, were said to be fast-moving, and for this reason Bardell points out that they were probably not cocci. Error has probably resulted from too much reliance on the illustrations and inattention to the descriptive text. The long chain of small dots should not be mistaken for drawings of bacteria (it indicates the path of movement of a single organism). Leeuwenhoek did not link the microbes to disease, and indeed emphasized their abundance in the healthy mouth with well-cleaned teeth -- though he did imply a special abundance in people who had bad breath as a result of not cleaning their teeth. Dobell (1932) dismisses Wenyon's 1926 suggestion that these microbes included Trichomonas.|
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