GB2472515A - Toothbrush with contoured tufts - Google Patents

Toothbrush with contoured tufts Download PDF

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Publication number
GB2472515A
GB2472515A GB201013237A GB201013237A GB2472515A GB 2472515 A GB2472515 A GB 2472515A GB 201013237 A GB201013237 A GB 201013237A GB 201013237 A GB201013237 A GB 201013237A GB 2472515 A GB2472515 A GB 2472515A
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GB
United Kingdom
Prior art keywords
bristles
toothbrush
tuft
raised
contoured
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Granted
Application number
GB201013237A
Other versions
GB2472515B (en
GB201013237D0 (en
Inventor
Josef V Knutzen
Suzanne E Wilson
Markus Hoerenbaum
Janette Suh Edelstein
Stephen Blanchard
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Johnson and Johnson Consumer Inc
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Johnson and Johnson Consumer Inc
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Filing date
Publication date
Priority to US12/536,619 priority Critical patent/US20110030160A1/en
Application filed by Johnson and Johnson Consumer Inc filed Critical Johnson and Johnson Consumer Inc
Publication of GB201013237D0 publication Critical patent/GB201013237D0/en
Publication of GB2472515A publication Critical patent/GB2472515A/en
Application granted granted Critical
Publication of GB2472515B publication Critical patent/GB2472515B/en
Application status is Expired - Fee Related legal-status Critical
Anticipated expiration legal-status Critical

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Classifications

    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A46BRUSHWARE
    • A46BBRUSHES
    • A46B9/00Arrangements of the bristles in the brush body
    • A46B9/02Position or arrangement of bristles in relation to surface of the brush body, e.g. inclined, in rows, in groups
    • A46B9/04Arranged like in or for toothbrushes
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A46BRUSHWARE
    • A46BBRUSHES
    • A46B9/00Arrangements of the bristles in the brush body
    • A46B9/02Position or arrangement of bristles in relation to surface of the brush body, e.g. inclined, in rows, in groups
    • A46B9/04Arranged like in or for toothbrushes
    • A46B9/045Arranged like in or for toothbrushes specially adapted for cleaning a plurality of tooth surfaces simultaneously
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A46BRUSHWARE
    • A46DMANUFACTURE OF BRUSHES
    • A46D1/00Bristles; Selection of materials for bristles
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A46BRUSHWARE
    • A46DMANUFACTURE OF BRUSHES
    • A46D1/00Bristles; Selection of materials for bristles
    • A46D1/02Bristles details
    • A46D1/0253Bristles having a shape which is not a straight line, e.g. curved, "S", hook, loop
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A46BRUSHWARE
    • A46DMANUFACTURE OF BRUSHES
    • A46D1/00Bristles; Selection of materials for bristles
    • A46D1/02Bristles details
    • A46D1/0292Bristles having split ends
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A46BRUSHWARE
    • A46BBRUSHES
    • A46B2200/00Brushes characterized by their functions, uses or applications
    • A46B2200/10For human or animal care
    • A46B2200/1066Toothbrush for cleaning the teeth or dentures

Abstract

A toothbrush comprises a bristle head 112 which includes a tuft 220 which has two or more raised sections of bristles 222 which are separated from one another by a lower section of bristles 224 such that the raised sections act independently. The arrangement may comprise multiple sections and may include branches extending from a central region, the lower section being provided in the central region. The raise sections can be tapered downward toward the lower section and additional bristle tufts may be provided with profiles different from the profile of the contoured bristle tuft. The bristle configuration provides enhanced cleaning of teeth. Another aspect of the invention relates to a zig-zag or saw-tooth bristle profile, wherein each tuft making up the profile has its own unique substantially conical or frusto-conical profile. In one embodiment, the height of conical or frusto-conical bristle tufts increases from the sides of the head towards the midline of the head.

Description

BRISTLE CONFIGURATION

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates to toothbrush bristle profiles. More particularly, the present invention relates to unique bristle tuft profiles.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Toothbrushes generally have a plurality of bristle tufts, each tuft having a plurality of bristles, for removing plaque and debris from tooth surfaces. Typically, bristle tufts are configured for brushing the outer surfaces of the teeth, i.e., the buccal (cheek-facing), lingual (tongue facing), and occlusal (chewing) surfaces of the teeth. Dental floss is effective in removing plaque and debris from interdental or interproximal surfaces.

However, not all individuals floss on a regular basis, and some individuals hardly floss at all. Accordingly, it is desirable for toothbrush bristle profiles (the contour of the free cleaning / brushing / tooth-engaging ends of the bristles as seen from a side elevational view) to be designed to remove plaque and debris not only from the outer surfaces of the teeth but also from the interdental surfaces of the teeth. Massaging and stimulating the gums is also considered to be beneficial to good dental health. Accordingly, it also is desirable for toothbrushes to provide gum and interdental stimulation as well as good interdental cleaning.

[0003] Commercially available toothbrushes with flat bristle profiles (i.e., all free ends of the bristles are on substantially the same level or, in other words, are coplanar) clean the outer surfaces of teeth adequately, but are not as adept at cleaning interdental surfaces and providing interdental stimulation as are toothbrushes with contoured bristle profiles (having free ends at differing heights). Various bristle profiles, such as a repeating "V"-shaped (aka, sawtooth or zig-zag) profile, are known to increase the cleaning and gum-stimulating efficacy of toothbrushes.

[0004] Commercial toothbrushes typically have a brushing surface area (the surface area occupied by bristle free ends) of approximately ito 1.25 inches (25.4 to 35.8 nun) long and 5/16 to 3/8 inches (7.9 to 9.5mm) wide. The bristles are generally arranged in 4 to 6 longitudinally extending (i.e., from the distal to the proximal end of the head, or, in other words, from the tip of the head towards the handle) rows of bristle tufts with 5 to 14 tufts per row, and approximately 20 to 50 bristles per tuft. Typical tufts are approximately 0.063 inches (1.6 mm) in diameter, with a cross-sectional area of approximately 0.079 inches2 (2 ff2) The diameters of commonly used bristles are: 0.006 inch (0.15 mm) for soft bristles, 0.008 inch (0.2 mm) for medium bristles, and 0.0 10 inch (0.25 mm) for hard bristles. The diameter of the bristles used in the brush, or increasing the tuft area, generally increases the stiffness of the bristles or tufts, and generally extends the life of the brush. However, such increases generally negatively affect the interdental cleaning of the brush, as well as the wear on the gums because the bristles are not as readily moved or bent to fit in the interdental spaces.

[0005] Accordingly, there is a continuing desire to improve the interdental cleaning ability of toothbrushes, especially since many individuals do not floss. Moreover, there is a desire to increase the life of the brush.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] In accordance with the principles of the present invention, a toothbrush is formed with a bristle profile providing superior interdental cleaning. In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, at least one bristle tuft is provided with a greater number of bristles than in typical bristle tufts and with a brushing surface area greater than typical bristle tufts, such large bristle tuft being contoured to provide superior interdental cleaning. In particular, the large bristle tuft has at least two raised sections of bristles separated from one another by shorter bristles. The large bristle tuft has a sufficient number of bristles to impart increased stiffness, rigidity, and cleaning power typical of larger-area bristle tufts. However, because the raised sections are isolated from one another, such sections have the flexibility and interdental reach of typical bristle tufts having fewer bristles than the larger-area bristle tuft. The raised sections of the large bristle tuft can sweep around teeth and reach interproximal areas, and the lower sections of the large bristle tuft polish the outer surfaces of the teeth.

[0007] In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, a toothbrush may be formed with bristle tufts of standard brushing surface area, each bristle tuft being contoured to have a substantially conical or frustoconical profile. Moreover, the heights of the tallest or highest bristles in the conical bristle tufts vary along the brushing surface area of the toothbrush. Accordingly, such bristle tufts are contoured for ready interdental cleaning yet are at different heights and spaced from one another for even better opportunities to reach interdental surfaces of the user's teeth.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0008] While the specification concludes with claims which particularly point out and distinctly claiming the invention, it is believed the present invention will be better understood from the following description of several particularly preferred embodiments taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like reference numerals identify similar elements and wherein: [0009] FIGURE 1 is a perspective view of an exemplary toothbrush to which the principles of the present invention may be applied; [0010] FIGURE 2 is an isolated side elevational view of the head of the toothbrush shown in FIGURE 1; [0011] FIGURE 3 is an isolated perspective view of the head shown in FIGURE 2; [0012] FIGURE 4 is an isolated schematic side view of an exemplary bristle tuft formed in accordance with the principles of the present invention; [0013] FIGURE 5 is an isolated schematic plan view of the exemplary bristle tuft of FIGURE 4; [0014] FIGURE 6 is a schematic plan view of another exemplary bristle tuft formed in accordance with the principles of the present invention; [0015] FIGURE 7 is an isolated schematic plan view of a first tri-lobal exemplary bristle tuft formed in accordance with the principles of the present invention; [0016] FIGURE 8 is an isolated schematic plan view of a second tri-lobal exemplary bristle tuft formed in accordance with the principles of the present invention; [0017] FIGURE 9 is an isolated schematic plan view of a third tri-lobal exemplary bristle tuft formed in accordance with the principles of the present invention; [00181 FIGURE 10 is an isolated schematic plan view of a first multi-branch exemplary bristle tuft formed in accordance with the principles of the present invention; [0019] FIGURE 11 is an isolated schematic plan view of a second multi-branch exemplary bristle tuft formed in accordance with the principles of the present invention; [0020] FIGURE 12 is an isolated schematic plan view of a third multi-branch exemplary bristle tuft formed in accordance with the principles of the present invention; [0021] FIGURE 13 is an isolated schematic plan view of a first circular exemplary bristle tuft formed in accordance with the principles of the present invention; [00221 FIGURE 14 is an isolated schematic plan view of a second circular exemplary bristle tuft formed in accordance with the principles of the present invention; and [0023] FIGURE 15 is another isolated perspective view of the head shown in FIGURE 2.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[00241 An exemplary toothbrush 100 to which the principles of the present invention may be applied is illustrated in FIGURE 1, with head 110 shown in isolation in FIGURES 2 and 3. Handle portion 102 and neck portion 104 of exemplary toothbrush 100 are angled with respect to each other, but need not be for purposes of the present invention.

Toothbrush 100 has a proximal end 106 (at which handle 102 is provided for grasping by a user) and a distal end 108 (at which head 110 is provided) along longitudinal direction L. Longitudinal direction L is defined herein as the direction extending generally along the length of toothbrush 100 between proximal end 106 and distal end 108. Longitudinal direction L may extend along handle portion 102 or neck portion 104 or along a direction therebetween. Transverse direction T is defined herein as a direction transverse to longitudinal direction L, such as extending across the width of toothbrush head 110. For applications such as electric toothbrushes, handle portion 102 may have suitable attachment means (not shown) located at proximal end 106 for securing toothbrush 100 to a power source or driving means.

[0025] Toothbrush head 110 has a head surface 112 from which bristles 114 extend.

Bristles 114 may include a toe tuft 116 at the proximal-most end of head surface 112 configured for reaching a user's back teeth. Typically, a toe tuft is a larger bristle tuft that preferably has an angled contour, such as illustrated in the exemplary embodiment of FIGURES 1-3. Gum massagers 118 may optionally be provided, extending from head surface 112, and configured for massaging the user's gums and I or for indicating if the toothbrush is being used with too much pressure against the gums and teeth. Gum massagers 118 preferably are formed from a soft, resilient material, such as an elastomer.

The height of gum massagers 118 may be selected to be lower than the height of any of the cleaning bristles extending from head surface 112.

[0026] The exemplary toothbrush illustrated in FIGURES 1-3 is an adult full-sized head. It will be appreciated that the principles of the present invention, to be detailed next, may be applied to other types of heads, such as compact heads, or the smaller-sized heads used on children's toothbrushes. For instance, more compact head designs may be obtained by not including a toe tuft, by eliminating various bristle tufts, and / or by eliminating some or all of the gum massagers.

[0027] The bristle profile (i.e., the profile of the cleaning ends or free ends of the bristles, as seen from a side elevational view) of a toothbrush formed in accordance with the principles of the present invention is configured to provide superior interdental cleaning.

The individual bristles used to achieve the inventive bristle tuft profile may be generally circular in cross-section, with individual bristle diameters of between about 0.004 inch (0.1 mm) and about 0.0 14 inch (0.4 mm). However, other cross-sectional bristle shapes such as oval, square, rectangle, hexagonal, plus-sign, star, etc., are also contemplated. Bristles are typically made of synthetic fibers, such as nylon 6.12. The free cleaning ends of the bristles may be formed in any desired manner, such as straight-cut, rounded, tapered, or otherwise contoured. It will be appreciated that the individual bristles need not all be identical to one another. For instance, bristles of different diameters or cross-sectional shapes may be provided on a toothbrush head 112 of a toothbrush 100 formed in accordance with principles of the present invention.

[0028] Typical average or standard bristle tufts, composed of a plurality of bristles, are approximately 0.063 inches (1.6 mm) in diameter, with a cross-sectional area of approximately 0.079 inches2 (2 2) Larger tufts are commonly provided as toe tufts at the distal-most end of a toothbrush head (or heel tufts at the proximal-most end of a toothbrush head closest to the handle), and may be found at other locations along a toothbrush head to provide more powerful cleaning ability than standard bristle tufts with fewer bristles. In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, at least one such large tuft having a brushing surface area (surface area occupied by brushing or free ends of the bristles) larger than a standard or typical toothbrush bristle tuft is contoured to form a contoured large tuft 120 having a raised section configured for reaching interdental tooth surfaces. A contoured large tuft 120 formed in accordance with the principles of the present invention is larger in area than average tufts on toothbrushes known in the art. Average tufts have a cross-sectional area of about 2 mm2. The contoured tufts of the present invention have a cross-sectional area preferably greater than at least about 4 mm2, more preferably greater than at least about n2 and most preferably greater than at least about 10mm2.

[00291 Because contoured large tuft 120 has a larger brushing surface area than provided by average or standard bristle tufts, contoured large tuft 120 has more bristles than commonly provided in a standard bristle tuft and thus does not flex as readily or as much as a bristle tuft having a standard surface area and formed of bristles of the same diameter as in contoured large tuft 120. Accordingly, the bristles of contoured large tuft 120 have the stiffness, rigidity, and cleaning power of a larger tuft because of the lateral reinforcement provided by the bristles making up contoured large tuft 120, while allowing more targeted cleaning action than heretofore permitted by larger tufts. Contoured large tuft 120 is contoured to have at least one raised section 122 of bristles having heights extending above the heights of the bristles remaining in lower section 124 of contoured large tuft 120. A sufficient number of bristles of raised section 122 have brushing ends that are not laterally supported by the other shorter bristles of contoured large tuft 120 and extend above the heights of the other bristles in contoured large tuft 120 to reach into interdental spaces and clean interdental tooth surfaces efficiently. Accordingly, the bristles of raised section 122 have the flexibility and interdental reach of a smaller bristle tuft. Nonetheless, because the bristles of raised section 122 are laterally supported by the other bristles of contoured large tuft 120 at a level close to head surface 112 (i.e., at the lower region or adjacent the bases of the bristles), lateral shifting is still lower, on average, than that which may occur if such raised section were an independently formed interdental tuft.

[0030] As will be appreciated, a contoured large tuft 120 formed in accordance with the principles of the present invention can sweep around teeth and reach interproximal areas (via raised section 122) while also simultaneously polishing outer tooth surfaces (via lower section 124). For purposes of the present invention, a raised section 122 of a contoured large tuft 120 formed in accordance with principles of the present invention is a section having free cleaning ends extending above other bristles of that tuft. Also for purposes of the present invention, a lower section 124 of a contoured large tuft 120 formed in accordance with principles of the present invention is a section having free cleaning ends below the free cleaning ends of other bristles in that tuft. Because contoured large tuft 120 may include bristles of varying heights (all bristles are not necessarily either the tallest or the shortest, but may have a height in between the tallest and shortest bristles), the lowest section may also be referenced as the base section.

[00311 In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, the cross-sectional cleaning area provided by raised section 122 of contoured large tuft 120 is sufficient to achieve the desired cleaning, particularly interdentally. Preferably, a raised section 122 having a brushing surface area of at least about 0.25 mm2 is believed to provide the desired interdental cleaning. Preferably, raised section 122 has a brushing surface area of less than about 4 nim2. A raised section 122 with brushing surface area of about 1.5 mm2 has been shown to provide the desired improved cleaning efficacy.

[0032] In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, which may or may not be combined with the above-described aspects, more than one raised section 122 is provided within contoured large tuft 120. In order for the raised sections 122 to have the desired interdental cleaning ability, the raised sections 122 preferably are spaced apart from one another by bristles in lower section 124. More particularly, the free cleaning ends of raised sections 122 preferably are spatially isolated from one another so that each raised section 122 may function independently of the other raised sections 122. Preferably, a sufficient number of lower bristles are provided between raised sections to permit the separate raised sections to act independently. Alternatively, or additionally, the spacing between the separate and independent raised sections 122 may be determined by the brushing surface area provided between the separate and independent raised sections 122.

Optionally, the number of or surface area of lower bristles provided between separate and independent raised sections 122 is also selected to permit the lower bristles to efficaciously clean outer surfaces of a tooth while the raised sections clean interdental surfaces.

Preferably, raised sections are spaced apart from one another by at least 0.2 mm, and preferably at least 0.5 mm. It will be appreciated that lower section 124 may have regions that are isolated from one another such that lower section 124 may also be described as having one or more sections. However, for the sake of simplicity, reference is made to only a "lower section" with the understanding that such reference includes a single interconnected group of lower bristles as well two or more isolated sections of lower bristles.

[0033] Turning now to FIGURES 4 and 5, an exemplary contoured large tuft 220 of FIGURES 1-3 will now be described in further detail to further illustrate various principles of the present invention. As may be seen from the schematic side elevational view of FIGURE 4, bristles in raised section 222 (shown schematically and not as a precise representation) have free cleaning ends 223 that extend above the free cleaning ends 225 of the bristles in lower section 224. More particularly, although not all free cleaning ends 223 of raised section 222 are at the same height, all free cleaning ends 223 are nonetheless higher than free cleaning ends 225 of lower section 224. It will be appreciated that although free cleaning ends 223 of raised section 222 are not all at the same level or height, and taper inwardly and downwardly, it is within the scope of the present invention to have all free cleaning ends 223 at the same level or height. Likewise, it will be appreciated that although free cleaning ends 225 of lower section 224 are shown as not all being at the same level or height (yet all being lower than the lowest free cleaning end 224 of raised section 222), thus forming a substantially inwardly and downwardly tapering profile, it is within the scope of the present invention to have free cleaning ends 225 of lower section at the same levels or heights.

[0034] As may be seen from the schematic plan view of FIGURE 5 (in which the bristles are shown schematically and not as a precise representation), exemplary contoured large tuft 220 has a footprint (brushing surface area shape as seen from a plan view) with a generally "X" or "+" shape (hereinafter "cross-shaped" for the sake of convenience without intent to limit). As may be appreciated with reference to at least FIGURE 3, the free ends of the arms or legs or branches 230 need not be squared, but, instead, may be rounded. The bristles making up branches 230 of the cross-shaped footprint form raised section 222 of contoured large tuft 220, whereas the bristles making up central region 232 from which branches 230 extend form lower section 224 of contoured large tuft 220. As may be appreciated, raised sections 222 are at least partially separated by gap regions 234 where no bristles are provided. As such, raised sections 222 are isolated from one another by gap regions 234 to permit each raised section 222 to function independently of the other raised sections 222 and to achieve the desired interdental cleaning function. The presence of lower section 224 adjacent each of raised sections 222 imparts the desired support and / or rigidity to each of raised sections 222 to enhance the cleaning efficacy of each of raised sections 222.

[0035] Of course, instead of having gap regions 234 where no bristles are provided, shorter bristles may be provided in the areas indicated in FIGURE 5 as gap regions, such as to form a substantially square footprint shape, as in the exemplary schematic embodiment of FIGURE 6. The corners of a square-shaped footprint may be rounded, as would be formed from the exemplary embodiment of FIGURE 5, or more squared off, as illustrated in FIGURE 6. Like contoured large tuft 220 of FIGURES 4 and 5, a contoured large tuft 320 with a square footprint, as shown in the exemplary embodiment of FIGURE 6, has taller bristles (relative to the other bristles making up contoured large tuft 320) forming raised sections 322 preferably at least at corner regions, and shorter bristles (relative to the other bristles making up contoured large tuft 320) forming lower section 324 between raised sections 322 (and optionally in a central region 334 as well). In accordance with principles of the present invention, raised sections 322 preferably are provided separate and independent of one another to be substantially spatially isolated from one another to function independently of one another. Raised sections 322 may form a tuft profile along line A-A such as the tuft profile of contoured large tuft 220 as illustrated in FIGURE 4, or any other desired profile preferably achieving efficacious cleaning in accordance with principles of the present invention. The footprint shape of each of raised sections 322 may be square or any other desired shape within the substantially square footprint shape of contoured large tuft 320. The bristles of one or more of raised sections 322 may be at different heights (such as forming a tapered profile) or may all be at the same height.

[0036] It will be appreciated that a contoured large tuft 120 formed in accordance with the principles of the present invention may have footprint shapes other than the "X" or "+" shape of exemplary contoured large tuft 120 of FIGURES 3 and 5. For instance, exemplary contoured large tuft 220 may be said to have four branches 230. In accordance with the principles of the present invention, a contoured large tuft may be formed with less than or more than the four branches of contoured large tuft 220. If formed with fewer than two branches, contoured large tuft 220 may be said to have an elongated footprint, either in the form of a substantially straight line (to form a bar-like footprint shape) or a curved line (such as an arcuate or sinusoidal or otherwise curving line). Two or more raised sections, with any desired footprint shape, may be provided along the extent of such footprint shape, preferably separated from one another by at least one lower section.

[0037] A branched contoured large tuft may be formed with other numbers of branches than those described above. In accordance with the principles of the present invention, exemplary contoured large tufts 420a, 420b, and 420c of FIGURES 7-9, respectively, each have only three branches 430 (e.g., a "tri-lobal" footprint pattern). Although branches 430 of the embodiments schematically illustrated in f FIGURES 7-9 are shown equidistantly spaced from one another and of substantially the same lengths, it will be appreciated that variations as to spacing and lengths of branches 430 are within the scope of the present invention. Preferably, raised sections are formed in accordance with the principles of the present invention with any desired footprint shape along at least a portion or all of one or more of branches 430 of contoured large tufts 420a, 420b, 420c, and are preferably separated by lower sections 424. Variations of raised section locations and shapes are illustrated in the exemplary embodiments of FIGURES 7-9. For instance, exemplary contoured large tuft 420a of FIGURE 7 has circular raised sections 422a larger and closer to the center of contoured large tuft 420a than the circular raised sections 422b in the exemplary contoured large tuft 420b of FIGURE 8. In contrast, raised Sections 422c in exemplary contoured large tuft 420c of FIGURE 9 occupy the tip area of each of branches 430 and thus do not have a circular footprint shape. Also, a raised section may be provided at the central region referably spaced from the other raised sections 422b), such as central raised section 434b of contoured large tuft 420b of FIGURE 8. Lower sections 424 preferably form the remaining region of contoured large tufts 420a, 420b, 420c, preferably spacing the raised sections from one another.

[0038] In the exemplary embodiments illustrated schematically in FIGURES 10-12, respective exemplary contoured large tufts 520a, 520b, 520c are formed with more than four branches 530, such as to form a substantially asterisk (*) footprint pattern. Although branches 530 of the embodiments of FIGURES 10-12 are shown equidistantly spaced from one another and of substantially the same lengths, it will be appreciated that variations as to spacing and lengths of branches 530 are within the scope of the present invention.

Preferably, raised sections are formed in accordance with the principles of the present invention with any desired footprint shape along at least a portion or all of one or more of branches 530 of contoured large tufts 520a 520b, 520c, and are preferably separated by lower sections 524. Variations of raised section locations and shapes are illustrated in the exemplary embodiments of FIGURES 10-12. For instance, exemplary contoured large tuft 520a of FIGURES 10 and 11 have raised sections 522a and 522b, respectively, at the tips of each branch 530, each raised section 522a, 522b having a substantially rectangular footprint shape. In exemplary contoured large tuft 520b of FIGURE 11, an additional central raised section 534b is provided at the central region of contoured large tuft 520b, preferably spaced from the other raised sections 522b. In contrast, raised sections 522c of exemplary contoured large tuft 520c of FIGURE 12 occupy substantially all of the footprint area of each of branches 530, with lower section 524 formed only at the central region 534c of contoured large tuft 520c. Lower sections 524 preferably form the remaining region of contoured large tufts 520a, 520b, 520c, preferably spacing the raised sections from one another.

[0039] As will thus be appreciated, the footprint shape of a contoured large tuft as well as the individual raised sections of such contoured large tuft formed in accordance with principles of the present invention may be any desired shape (e.g., rectangular, oval, star-shaped, ring-shaped, etc.) that achieves the desired efficacious cleaning and preferably, in particular, simultaneous interdental as well as outer tooth surface cleaning. For instance, a contoured large tuft formed in accordance with principles of the present invention may have a substantially circular footprint shape, such as exemplary contoured large tufts 620a, 620b illustrated schematically in FIGURES 13 and 14, respectively. Like the previously described exemplary contoured large tufts, contoured large tufts 620a and 620b of FIGURES 13 and 14 have raised or taller bristles (relative to the other bristles making up contoured large tuft 620a, 620b) forming raised sections 622a and 622b, and shorter bristles (relative to the other bristles making up contoured large tuft 620a, 620b) forming lower sections 624, as illustrated in FIGURES 12 and 13. Each raised section 622a, 622b may have any desired footprint shape (the raised sections of a given contoured large tuft all having the same footprint shape or each having a different footprint shape), the ovoid shape illustrated in FIGURES 13 and 14 being merely exemplary and not obligatory. Raised sections 622a or 622b may be equidistant from one another, as in the exemplary embodiments of FIGURES 13 and 14, or at any other desired spacing. However, as discussed above, it will be appreciated that raised sections 622a and 622b preferably are at least spaced apart from one another by lower section 624 to be substantially isolated from one another spatially. Raised sections 622a and 622b are illustrated as being provided along the outer periphery of exemplary contoured large tufts 620a and 620b. However, raised sections may be provided inwardly of the outer periphery in addition or instead. In exemplary contoured large tuft 620b schematically illustrated in FIGURE 14, a central raised section 634b is provided in a central region of contoured large tuft 620.

[0040] In accordance with the principles of the present invention, it is desirable for raised sections 122, 222, 322, 422a, 422b, 422c, 522a, 522b, 522c, 622a, and 622b (for the sake of simplicity, reference hereinafter will be made only to raised section 122 with the understanding that similar principles or descriptions may be applied to the other raised sections of the other embodiments) to be sufficiently raised above respective lower sections 124, 224, 324, 424, 424, 424, 524, 524, 524, 624, 624, 624 (for the sake of simplicity, reference hereinafter will be made only to lower section 124 with the understanding that similar principles or descriptions may be applied to the other lower sections of the other embodiments) to differentiate these two sections functionally from each other by imparting different functional capabilities to these two sections. The portions of the bristles of raised sections 122 extending above the free cleaning ends of lower section 124 preferably are sufficiently long enough to reach adequately into the interdental spaces between teeth while (and preferably at the same time) the free cleaning ends of the bristles of lower section 124 reach the outer surfaces of the teeth. In accordance with the principles of the present invention, a sufficient brushing surface area is provided by a raised section 122 that extends sufficiently above surrounding bristles of contoured large tuft 120 to reach into interdental spaces and to clean interdental surfaces. The highest bristle in at least one of the raised sections 122 of a contoured large tuft 120 formed in accordance with the principles of the present invention is preferably at least about 0.5 mm higher and not more than about 4 mm higher, and more preferably at least about 1 or 2 mm higher, and most preferably about 1.8 mm higher than the lowest group of bristle in lower section 124 of that contoured large tuft 120.

[00411 As may be appreciated from the above descriptions of exemplary contoured large tufts formed in accordance with the principles of the present invention, the height of bristles in the raised sections of the contoured large tuft are not necessarily all the same height. Instead, one or more of the raised sections may have a tapered profile. Such tapering may occur in any desired direction, such as to achieve a particular functional effect. The tuft profile of the sections of contoured large tufts formed in accordance with principles of the present invention may be selected to increase the number of bristles contacting the user's teeth at the same time. For instance, the tuft profile of at least the raised section may be curved so that when bristles of a raised section reach interdentally between the teeth, tapering of the raised section allows bristles simultaneously to contact the curving tooth surface. In other words, although brush head 112 generally will not be the same distance from one point on a tooth surface as to another point on a tooth surface, the differing bristle lengths compensate for such varying distances between brush head 112 arid points along the tooth surfaces. More than one taper, in different directions, may be provided to increase bristle free cleaning end contact with teeth during cleaning regardless of the brushing direction. For instance, as may be seen in FIGURE 3, contoured large tuft 120 has a tapered raised section 122 tapering from the outer periphery downwards toward the more central lower section 124. Tapering may also occur from side to side (e.g., circumferentially about the periphery of the contoured large tuft). Preferably, the taper angle of a given raised section 122 is at least about 20 degrees from horizontal (such as with respect to head surface 112) and more preferably at least about 27 degrees. The taper angle of a given raised section 122 preferably is less than about 70 degrees, and more preferably less than about 50 degrees and most preferably less than about 45 degrees. If desired, bristles in lower section 124 need not all be of the same height. Some tapering of the bristles of lower section 124, such as a taper of approximately at least about 10 degrees and preferably no greater than about 40 degrees, and preferably about 20 degrees, is within the scope of the present invention. A substantially continuous contour or inward and downward taper may be provided, so long as a sufficient brushing surface area extends high enough above other bristles of contoured large tuft 120 to reach into interdental spaces to clean interdental tooth surfaces.

[0042] In accordance with a separate and independent aspect of the present invention, a plurality of bristle tufts may be formed to each have a contoured profile, with the various contoured bristle tufts being at different heights from one another. Such tufts may be of standard cross-sectional area. The bristle tufts may be contoured in any desired manner to achieve a desired cleaning effect or efficacy. For instance, the bristles in a given bristle tuft may be of different heights to form a substantially conical or frustoconical profile facilitating interdental cleaning. Bristles in other bristle tufts may be of different heights to form a concave profile that may better conform to the convex buccal and lingual tooth surfaces. The difference in heights of the various contoured bristle tufts may be selected to achieve a desired cleaning effect or efficacy as well. For instance, longer or higher tufts are desirable for interdental cleaning, whereas shorter or lower tufts are desirable for cleaning outer tooth surfaces, particular buccal and lingual tooth surfaces. The differences in heights between such contoured bristle tufts may be measured, for instance, by comparing the highest bristles of the contoured bristle tufts. The height difference between the contoured bristle tufts of varying heights 140 may be at least about 1.5 mm and preferably about 1 mm. Contoured bristle tufts of varying heights 140 may be arranged within a central region of the brushing surface area or footprint of the toothbrush head 110, as illustrated in the exemplary toothbrush heads of FIGURES 3 and 8. Preferably, contoured bristle tufts of varying heights 140 are provided in a middle region positioned in the central 70%-90% of brush head 110, spaced from the distal-most end (at which a raised section known as a toe tuft may be provided) or proximal-most end (at which a raised section known as a heel tuft may be provided). Such arrangement allows for the contoured bristle tufts to clean most outer surfaces of the teeth during normal or typical use of toothbrush 100, in contrast with the more limited typical use of contoured bristle tufts of differing heights provided at a distal end of a toothbrush head (such as in place of a toe tuft) to clean back teeth and not readily arranged to clean teeth in the front area of the user's mouth.

[0043] Alternatively, or additionally, the contoured bristle tufts of varying heights 140 may be arranged such that the height differences occur not only along longitudinal direction L of toothbrush head 110 (such as sawtooth patterns common in the prior art), but also along transverse direction T of toothbrush head 110. The exemplary embodiment of FIGURES 3 and 15 illustrate one arrangement of contoured bristle tufts of varying height 140 in which the height of the contoured bristle tufts increasing towards the center or midline M of toothbrush head 110 (which is substantially equidistant from the sides of the head), and the arrangement has a substantially sawtooth profile in side elevation (such as may be appreciated with reference to FIGURE 2).

[0044] In accordance with yet another aspect of the present invention, contoured bristle tufts of varying height 140 may be interspersed with bristle tufts having different contours or no contour at all (i.e., the cleaning free ends of all bristles being at substantially the same height), and / or bristle tufts with different brushing surface areas, such as a large tuft (like contoured large tuft 120). It will be appreciated that the bristle tuft arrangement of FIGURES 2, 3, and 15 is exemplary and various other bristle tuft arrangements and bristle profiles may be formed in accordance with the principles of the present invention to achieve the enhanced efficacy provided by applying the principles of the present invention.

[0045] A toothbrush may be formed in accordance with the principles of the present invention using methods similar to those disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. U.S. Pat. No. 5,609,890, issued to G.B. Boucherie N.y. on March 11, 1997, or U.S. Pat. No. 6,582,028 issued to MC Schiffer GmbH on June 24, 2003, which patents are hereby incorporated herein by reference in their entireties.

[0046] Various embodiments of toothbrushes formed in accordance with the principles of the invention have been described above. Each embodiment is provided by way of explanation of the invention, not limitation of the invention. In fact, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications and variations can be made in the present invention without departing from the scope or spirit of the invention. For instance, features illustrated or described as part of one embodiment can be used on another embodiment to yield a still further embodiment. Thus, it is intended that the present invention cover such modifications and variations as come within the scope of the appended claims and their equivalents.

[0047] The present invention may be better understood with reference to the following

examples.

EXAMPLES

[0048] Three toothbrushes were constructed. The first toothbrush was constructed with three cross-shaped tufts as laid out in FIGURE 3 with all bristles at substantially the same height (9.2 mm). A second toothbrush was constructed with three cross-shaped tufts in the same configuration and bristle density as the first brush, but with raised bristle sections and lowered bristle sections having a height difference of 1.2 mm (9.2 mm, 8.0 mm). A third toothbrush was constructed with tufts as laid out in FIGURES 1-3, but without gum massagers. The toe tuft, and frustoconical-shaped bristles, and cross-shaped tufts yielded an overall, repeating inverted "V" pattern. A fourth toothbrush was constructed with frustoconical tufts and a toe tuft as laid out in FIGURES 1-3 and 15, but without gum massagers or the large cross-shaped tufts.

[0049] Simulated plaque was applied to a human jaw model in the area between the teeth. Three hundred grams of force was applied to each head to push the bristles against the teeth, and the toothbrush was moved back and forth by a machine for eight seconds to simulate brushing. The amount of simulated plaque left behind was then assessed compared to a control to determine how much was removed based upon the toothbrush head design. The table below summarizes the results: Percent Plague Removed versus Brush Head Design Brush Head Design Plaque Removal _____________________ (%) Control 0 Cross-shaped tufts wJ bristles of uniform 59 height __________________ Cross-shaped tufts w/ bristles with height 91 difference of 1.2 mm __________________ Cross-shaped tufts w/ bristles height 93 difference of 1.2 mm plus toe and conical tufts _______________ Frustoconical tufts of varying heights + toe 88 tuft _______________ [0050] The table shows the significant improvement when cross-shaped tufts with bristles a height difference of 1.2 mm are used to clean the teeth. Adding toe and conical tufts is shown to slightly improve plaque removal.

[0051] The exemplary embodiment illustrated in the figures has several separate and independent inventive features, which each, at least alone, has unique benefits which are desirable for, yet not critical to, the present invention. Therefore, the various separate features of the present invention need not all be present in order to achieve at least some of the desired characteristics and / or benefits of the present invention. One or more separate features may be combined, or only one of the various features need be present in a formed in accordance with the principles of the present invention, whether or not explicitly indicated. Therefore, the present invention is not limited to only the embodiments specifically described herein.

[0052] While the foregoing description and drawings represent exemplary embodiments of the present invention, it will be understood that various additions, modifications and substitutions may be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. In particular, it will be clear to those skilled in the art that the present invention may be embodied in other specific forms, structures, arrangements, proportions, and with other elements, materials, and components, without departing from the spirit or essential characteristics thereof One skilled in the art will appreciate that the invention may be used with many modifications of structure, arrangement, proportions, materials, and components and otherwise, used in the practice of the invention, which are particularly adapted to specific environments and operative requirements without departing from the principles of the present invention. For example, elements shown as integrally formed may be constructed of multiple parts or elements shown as multiple parts may be integrally formed, the operation of elements may be reversed or otherwise varied, the size or dimensions of the elements may be varied. The presently disclosed embodiments are therefore to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive, the scope of the invention being indicated by the appended claims, and not limited to the foregoing description.

Claims (27)

  1. CLAIMS1. A toothbrush comprising: a handle extending in a longitudinal direction and having a proximal end and a distal end; a head at said distal end of said handle; at least one contoured bristle tuft extending from said head; wherein: said contoured bristle tuft is a single tuft of bristles bunched together and has two or more raised sections of bristles and a lower section of bristles, bristles in said raised sections being higher than bristles in said lower section; and said two or more raised sections of said contoured bristle tuft are separated from one another by said lower sections to act independently of one another while still remaining part of the same contoured bristle tuft.
  2. 2. A toothbrush as in claim 1, wherein each said raised section has a brushing surface area of at least about 0.25 mm2.
  3. 3. A toothbrush as in claim 1 or 2, wherein each raised section has a brushing surface area of less than about 4 mm2.
  4. 4. A toothbrush as in claim 1, 2 or 3, wherein each raised section has a brushing surface area of at least about 1.5 mm2.
  5. 5. A toothbrush as in any of claims 1-4, wherein said raised sections are separated at least 0.2 mm apart from one another.
  6. 6. A toothbrush as in claim 5, wherein said raised sections are separated at least 0.5 mm apart from one another.
  7. 7. A toothbrush as in any of the preceding claims, wherein lower sections separate each raised section from another raised section to isolate said raised sections from one another.
  8. 8. A toothbrush as in claim 7, wherein said raised sections are isolated from one another to act independently, while bristles of said raised section are bunched with bristles of said lower section to impart lateral support from said lower section to said raised sections.
  9. 9. A toothbrush as in any of the preceding claims, wherein the highest bristle in said raised section is at least about 0.5 mm higher than the lowest bristles in said lower section.
  10. 10. A toothbrush as in claim 9, wherein the highest bristle in said raised section is no more than about 4 mm higher than the lowest bristles in said lower section.
  11. 11. A toothbrush as in any of the preceding claims, wherein the highest bristle in said raised section is at least about I or 2 mm higher than the lowest bristles in said lower section.
  12. 12. A toothbrush as in any of the preceding claims, wherein said two or more raised sections includes four raised sections.
  13. 13. A toothbrush as in any of the preceding claims, wherein said contoured bristle tuft has a footprint with 3 or more branches extending from a central region.
  14. 14. A toothbrush as in claim 13, wherein said raised section is provided in one or more of said branches and said lower section is provided in said central region.
  15. 15. A toothbrush as in claim 14, wherein at least one of said raised sections has a tapered profile tapering downwardly toward said lower section.
  16. 16. A toothbrush as in any of the preceding claims, further including additional bristle tufts with profiles different from the profile of said contoured bristle tuft.
  17. 17. A contoured bristle tuft formed of a plurality of bristles bunched together; wherein said contoured bristle tuft has: a cross-sectional area of greater than about 4 mm2; and two or more raised sections of bristles spaced apart from each other by a lower section of bristles; and the highest bristles in said raised section are at least about 0.5 mm higher than the lowest bristles in said lower section.
  18. 18. A contoured bristle tuft as in claim 17, wherein the highest bristle in said raised section is no more than about 4 mm higher than the lowest bristles in said lower section.
  19. 19. A contoured bristle tuft as in claim 17 or 18, wherein the highest bristle in said raised section is at least about 1 or 2 mm higher than the lowest bristles in said lower section
  20. 20. A contoured bristle tuft as in claim 17, 18 or 19, wherein said raised sections are spatially isolated from one another by being spaced apart at least about 0.2 mm to act independently, while bristles of said raised section are bunched with bristles of said lower section to impart lateral support from said lower section to said raised sections.
  21. 21. A contoured bristle tuft as in claim 20, wherein said raised sections are spatially isolated from one another by being spaced apart at least about 0.5 mm.
  22. 22. A toothbrush comprising: a handle extending in a longitudinal direction and having a proximal end and a distal end; a head at said distal end of said handle; a plurality of contoured bristle tufts extending from said head; wherein: each contoured bristle tuft comprises a plurality of bristles at different heights fonning a substantially frustoconical contoured bristle tuft profile; said plurality of contoured bristle tufts have heights defined by the highest bristles in said contoured bristle tuft; said plurality of contoured bristle tufts includes contoured bristle tufts of different heights; said contoured bristle tufts together form a sawtooth bristle tuft profile at a central region of said head.
  23. 23. A toothbrush as in claim 22, wherein: said sawtooth bristle tuft profile extends in said longitudinal direction; and the height of said contoured bristle tufts increases from the sides of said head toward the midline of said head.
  24. 24. A toothbrush as in claim 22 or 23, further comprising a large bristle tuft having a larger brushing surface area than the brushing surface area of any of said contoured bristle tufts.
  25. 25. A toothbrush as in claim 22, 23 or 24, wherein said large bristle tuft has a contoured bristle tuft profile.
  26. 26. A toothbrush as in any one of claims 22-25, further comprising a toe tuft at a distal-most end of said head, said contoured bristle tufts being spaced apart from said toe tuft in a proximal direction.
  27. 27. A toothbrush substantially as hereinbefore described with reference to and as shown in the attached drawings.
GB201013237A 2009-08-06 2010-08-05 Bristle configuration Expired - Fee Related GB2472515B (en)

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JP (1) JP2011036658A (en)
AU (1) AU2010203306A1 (en)
BR (1) BRPI1003243A2 (en)
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AU2010203306A1 (en) 2011-02-24
JP2011036658A (en) 2011-02-24
US20110030160A1 (en) 2011-02-10
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RU2462971C2 (en) 2012-10-10
CA2712615A1 (en) 2011-02-06

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