GRAM-NEGATIVE anaerobic bacilli are important members of the normal flora of the mouth (Hardie and Bowden, 1974) and are implicated in a variety of oral infections (Hardie, 1974). The mouth consists of several micro-environments with different microbial flora; the gingival crevice and dental plaque are the principal sites of colonisation by gram-negative anaerobic bacilli (Socransky and Manganiello, 1971; Hardie and Bowden, 1974). The surface of the tongue is almost devoid of , and saliva contains a variable number of fusobacteria derived from the gingival crevice (Hadi and Russell, 1968; 1969). Gibbons (1963, 1964) and Loesche, Hockett and Syed (1972) found that 16.1% of the cultivable flora of the human gingival crevice, 4% of the flora from dental plaque in normal subjects, and 17% of the plaque flora in institutionalised subjects, were gram-negative anaerobic rods; Loesche and Gibbons (1965) devised a scheme for their identification.

was first described in studies of the microflora of mucous membranes (Oliver and Wherry, 1921); pigmented strains constitute 4.8% of the cultivable flora of the normal gingival crevice (Gibbons, 1974) and 5.6% of the plaque flora from institutionalised subjects (Loesche , 1972). Loesche, Socransky and Gibbons (1964) isolated non-pigmented strains that they called ; this species shares many properties with some strains of and is the subject of an unresolved taxonomic debate (Holbrook and Duerden, 1974; Sundqvist, 1976; Holbrook, Duerden and Deacon, 1977; International Committee, 1977, 1979; Duerden , 1980). The group also includes human isolates of and two recent non-pigmented additions, and (Holdeman and Johnson, 1977).

In the present investigation, conventional bacteriological methods for the isolation (Holbrook, Ogston and Ross, 1978) and identification (Duerden , 1976, 1980) of gram-negative anaerobic bacilli were used to assess the occurrence of the different species in the normal flora of the gingival crevice of healthy adults.


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