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US20070028941A1 - Retractable dental hygiene article with chamber - Google Patents

Retractable dental hygiene article with chamber Download PDF

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Publication number
US20070028941A1
US20070028941A1 US11198071 US19807105A US2007028941A1 US 20070028941 A1 US20070028941 A1 US 20070028941A1 US 11198071 US11198071 US 11198071 US 19807105 A US19807105 A US 19807105A US 2007028941 A1 US2007028941 A1 US 2007028941A1
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Prior art keywords
portion
chamber
head
assembly
stem
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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.)
Abandoned
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US11198071
Inventor
Bryan Oronsky
Neil Oronsky
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Bryan Oronsky
Neil Oronsky
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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A46BRUSHWARE
    • A46BBRUSHES
    • A46B5/00Brush bodies; Handles integral with brushware
    • A46B5/002Brush bodies; Handles integral with brushware having articulations, joints or flexible portions
    • A46B5/0033Brush bodies; Handles integral with brushware having articulations, joints or flexible portions bending or stretching or collapsing
    • A46B5/0041Mechanical joint or hinge, made up of several components
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A46BRUSHWARE
    • A46BBRUSHES
    • A46B11/00Brushes with reservoir or other means for applying substances, e.g. paints, pastes, water
    • A46B11/0006Brushes with reservoir or other means for applying substances, e.g. paints, pastes, water specially adapted to feed the bristle upper surface
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A46BRUSHWARE
    • A46BBRUSHES
    • A46B11/00Brushes with reservoir or other means for applying substances, e.g. paints, pastes, water
    • A46B11/001Brushes with reservoir or other means for applying substances, e.g. paints, pastes, water with integral reservoirs
    • A46B11/0062Brushes where the reservoir is specifically intended for being refilled when empty
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A46BRUSHWARE
    • A46BBRUSHES
    • A46B15/00Other brushes; Brushes with additional arrangements
    • A46B15/0055Brushes combined with other articles normally separate from the brushing process, e.g. combs, razors, mirrors
    • A46B15/0069Brushes fitted with a interdental devices, e.g. toothpick
    • A46B15/0071Toothbrushes with flossing arrangements
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A46BRUSHWARE
    • A46BBRUSHES
    • A46B5/00Brush bodies; Handles integral with brushware
    • A46B5/002Brush bodies; Handles integral with brushware having articulations, joints or flexible portions
    • A46B5/0033Brush bodies; Handles integral with brushware having articulations, joints or flexible portions bending or stretching or collapsing
    • A46B5/0045Brushes articulated with more than one hinge
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A46BRUSHWARE
    • A46BBRUSHES
    • A46B5/00Brush bodies; Handles integral with brushware
    • A46B5/002Brush bodies; Handles integral with brushware having articulations, joints or flexible portions
    • A46B5/0033Brush bodies; Handles integral with brushware having articulations, joints or flexible portions bending or stretching or collapsing
    • A46B5/005Brushes with a telescopic or similarly moveable portion
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A46BRUSHWARE
    • A46BBRUSHES
    • A46B17/00Accessories for brushes
    • A46B17/06Devices for cleaning brushes after use
    • 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

The invention features a dental hygiene article that includes a retractable portion and a chamber portion for use in conjunction with the same, as well as methods of use to promote good oral hygiene practices. In general, the invention is directed to a dental hygiene article, such as a toothbrush, wherein the device includes a retractable proximal portion that contains one or both of a head assembly and a stem portion, a chamber portion that is configured for receiving the retractable proximal portion, and a handle portion, which may be detachable. Accordingly, when the retractable portion is in a retracted configuration the head assembly is encased within the chamber, which may then be filled with an additive, such as a fluid medicament, disinfectant, cleaning solution, or the like, so as to treat the head assembly prior to use.

Description

    FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • [0001]
    This invention is related to the field of dental hygiene. Specifically, a dental hygiene article is provided, for instance, a retractable toothbrush, that includes a head assembly and a retractable portion that retracts into a chamber, which may be filled with an additive (e.g., a fluid) so as to treat the head assembly prior to use.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0002]
    Thousands of harmful bacteria live in the mouth, which if not adequately protected against may produce a damaging acid that over time will break down the enamel of the teeth and thereby cause tooth decay. The most common way of disrupting and minimizing the number of bacteria in the mouth is to develop good oral hygiene habits that include both brushing and flossing the teeth regularly. Proper brushing removes harmful bacteria, including sticky film plaques, from the teeth, strengthens the gums, and coats the enamel with a protective layer of fluoride that acts as a barrier to bacterial acidification. However, an often overlooked aspect of good oral hygiene is the maintenance of a clean toothbrush head.
  • [0003]
    Toothbrush heads are typically made up of cylindrical bristles that if not properly maintained may become colonized with the very bacteria sought to be removed. In these instances, use of the toothbrush may actually become deleterious as microorganisms, germs, bacteria, and the like build up on the bristles of the toothbrush, which instead of cleaning the teeth actually spreads the germs and bacteria from one area to another. Because of the danger this poses for tooth decay, and other maladies such as gingivitis, periodontal disease, and chronic halitosis, it is important to take proper care of the toothbrush while not in use.
  • [0004]
    Conventional methods for caring for the toothbrush while not in use include various stand alone antiseptic containers that are big, bulky, do not lend themselves to convenient travel, and can be relatively open to the environment while the tooth brush is stored therein. Although these devices maybe useful for sanitizing a toothbrush head they are inconvenient, hard to clean, and do not provide an inexpensive mechanism for the agitation required for effective sterilization.
  • [0005]
    There is, therefore, a need for a dental hygiene article that is convenient, is more effective in both removing bacteria from the toothbrush bristles and sanitizing the toothbrush head. Accordingly, an apparatus and method consistent with the present invention and described herein below meets those needs.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0006]
    The invention features a dental hygiene article that includes a retractable portion and a chamber portion for use in conjunction with the same, as well as methods of use to promote good oral hygiene practices. In general, the invention is directed to a dental hygiene article such as a toothbrush, wherein the device includes a retractable proximal portion that contains one or both of a head assembly and a stem portion, a chamber portion that is configured for receiving the retractable proximal portion, and a handle portion, which may be detachable. Accordingly, when the retractable portion is in a retracted configuration the head assembly is encased within the chamber, which may then be filled with an additive, such as a fluid medicament, disinfectant, cleaning solution, or the like, so as to treat the head assembly prior to use.
  • [0007]
    Accordingly, in one aspect the invention is directed to a dental hygiene article having a retractable proximal portion that includes a head assembly and a stem portion, a distal handle portion, and a chamber portion, connecting the proximal portion and the distal portion, wherein the chamber is configured for receiving the proximal portion. In one embodiment, the proximal portion is capable of retracting through the chamber and into a lumen of the distal portion. In another embodiment, the proximal portion comprises a plurality of segments, configured for sequentially retracting one within the other.
  • [0008]
    In another aspect, the invention is directed to a dental hygiene article having a chamber portion that is configured for receiving the proximal portion when the segments of the stem portion are in a retracted configuration. In one embodiment, the chamber is configured to completely contain the head assembly and the stem portion after the segments of the stem portion are completely retracted. In another embodiment, the chamber includes a divider that defines a proximal portion receiving sub-chamber and a head assembly receiving sub-chamber. Additionally, the head assembly receiving sub-chamber may be configured for receiving an additive from an external source, such as an antechamber. In one embodiment, the additive is prevented from entering said proximal portion receiving sub-chamber by the divider. In another embodiment, the external source is one or more fill ports (e.g., antechambers) that are attached to the chamber portion and adapted for receiving an additive. One or more removable separators may be included so as to separate the lumen(s) of the antechamber(s) from the lumen of the chamber and thereby prevents the additive from entering said chamber by said separator.
  • [0009]
    In a further aspect the invention is directed to a dental hygiene article having a the head assembly, such as a toothbrush head assembly containing bristles, that is pivotably connected to the stem portion and configured to collapse into and be completely contained within the chamber after collapsing. In one embodiment, the head assembly is detachable from the proximal portion and in another embodiment the head assembly includes a loop that is configured for use in removing the head assembly from the chamber.
  • [0010]
    In one aspect the invention is directed to a dental hygiene article having a stem portion that includes one or more retractable segments that are configured for retracting, or “telescoping,” one within another. Additionally, the one or more retractable segments may further include one or more notches for facilitating the collapse of the toothbrush head assembly into the chamber, when the retractable stem portion is in a retracted configuration. In one embodiment, the stem (and/or proximal portion) is adapted for removal from the chamber portion. In one embodiment, the stem portion further comprises a biased spring to facilitate retraction or extension of the stem portion.
  • [0011]
    In one aspect the invention is directed to a dental hygiene article having a distal or handle portion that includes an actuator to effect retraction and/or extension of the stem portion, and may include a removable floss dispenser and outlet port.
  • [0012]
    In one aspect the invention is directed to a dental hygiene article having a head assembly (e.g., proximal portion) that is pivotably attached to said stem portion and said stem portion is pivotably attached to said chamber portion.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0013]
    FIG. 1A is a perspective view of a dental hygiene article with a non-collapsible head assembly, according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0014]
    FIGS. 1B and 1C are front and back views, and 1D and 1E are side views of a dental hygiene article according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0015]
    FIG. 1F is a top view of a dental hygiene article according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0016]
    FIG. 1G is a bottom view of a dental hygiene article according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0017]
    FIG. 2A is a perspective view of a dental hygiene article without a loop on the head assembly according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0018]
    FIGS. 2B and 2C are front and back views, and 2D and 2E are side views of a dental hygiene article according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0019]
    FIG. 2F is a top view of a dental hygiene article in a retracted configuration, according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0020]
    FIG. 2G is a bottom view of a dental hygiene article according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0021]
    FIG. 3A is a perspective view of a dental hygiene article with two antechambers according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0022]
    FIGS. 3B, 3C, 3D and 3E are front, back and side views of a dual antechamber dental hygiene article according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0023]
    FIG. 4 is a side view of a dental hygiene article showing the direction of retraction, according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0024]
    FIG. 5A is a perspective view of a dental hygiene article with a collapsible head assembly, according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0025]
    FIGS. 5B, 5C, 5D and 5E are front, back, and side views of a dental hygiene article according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0026]
    FIG. 5F is a top view of a dental hygiene article in a retracted and collapsed configuration according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0027]
    FIG. 5G is a bottom view of a dental hygiene article according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0028]
    FIG. 6A is a perspective view of a dental hygiene article without a loop on the head assembly according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0029]
    FIGS. 6B, 6C, 6D and 6E are front, back, and side views of a dental hygiene article according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0030]
    FIG. 6F is a top view of a dental hygiene article in a retracted configuration according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0031]
    FIG. 6G is a bottom view of a dental hygiene article according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0032]
    FIG. 7A is a perspective view of a dental hygiene article with dual antechambers, according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0033]
    FIGS. 7B, 7C, 7D and 7E are front, back, and side views of a dental hygiene article according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0034]
    FIG. 8 is a side view of a dental hygiene article according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0035]
    FIG. 9A is a perspective view of a dental hygiene article with a detachable handle portion, according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0036]
    FIG. 10 is a view of a handle portion of a dental hygiene article according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0037]
    FIG. 11 is a view of a dental hygiene article and an additive dispenser according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0038]
    FIG. 12A is a view of a chamber of a dental hygiene article with a retracted head assembly and stem portion therein, according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0039]
    FIG. 12B is a view of a chamber of a dental hygiene article with a collapsed head assembly and retracted stem portion therein, according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0040]
    FIG. 12C is a view of a divided chamber of dental hygiene article with a retracted stem portion in one portion of the chamber and a collapsed head assembly in another portion of the chamber, according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0041]
    FIG. 12D is a view of a detachable chamber portion, a retracted stem portion, and a collapsed head assembly of a dental hygiene article, wherein the chamber portion is detached from the stem and the distal portion, according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0042]
    FIG. 12E is a view of a detachable chamber portion, retracted stem portion, and a collapsed head assembly of a dental hygiene article, wherein the chamber portion is attached to the distal portion, according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0043]
    FIGS. 13A and 13 B are front and back views of a collapsible dental hygiene article according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0044]
    FIG. 13C is a side view of a collapsible dental hygiene article according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0045]
    FIG. 13D is a side view of a collapsible dental hygiene article in a semi-collapsed configuration according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0046]
    FIG. 13E is a side view of a collapsible dental hygiene article in a fully collapsed configuration according to an illustrative but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • [0047]
    In general, the invention provides a dental hygiene article that includes a retractable portion and a chamber for use in conjunction with the same, as well as methods of use to promote good oral hygiene practices. Generally, the invention is directed to a dental hygiene article such as a toothbrush, wherein the toothbrush includes a head assembly, a retractable-portion, and a chamber portion that is configured for receiving the head assembly and retractable portion. Accordingly, when the retractable portion is in a retracted configuration the head assembly will be entirely encased within the chamber, which may then be filled with an additive, such as a fluid medicament, disinfectant, cleaning solution, or the like, so as to treat the head assembly prior to use.
  • [0000]
    Dental Hygiene Articles of the Invention
  • [0048]
    The invention provides for a dental hygiene article, such as a toothbrush, that includes a retractable proximal portion that contains one or both of a head assembly and a stem portion, a chamber portion, and a handle portion, which may be detachable. Because of the unique configuration of the individual components, the dental hygiene article can be broken down and/or collapsed into its individual units, making it easy and convenient for transportation, while at the same time ensuring that the head assembly is protected and kept in a sanitary environment. This both promotes better hygiene habits and adds another barrier in the fight against tooth decay. Additionally, the toothbrush handle may be equipped with a floss dispenser for increased convenience and ease of use.
  • [0049]
    The dental hygiene article may have any form so long as it includes a head assembly that is capable of being encased within a chamber, such as a fluid storage chamber. For simplicity and clarification of description, and not in anyway to be limited thereto, the dental hygiene article will be referred to as a toothbrush, but may as well be any form of dental hygiene article that has a head assembly that engages the teeth or other portion of the mouth or tongue for the purpose of cleaning, such as a dental pick, probe, scaler, tongue scraper, or the like. “Head assembly” generally refers to dental hygiene articles as discussed herein which are adapted for use with the retractable portion and for storage within a chamber as described below in more detail.
  • [0050]
    Additionally, a dental hygiene article of the subject invention may be fabricated from any suitable material well known, usually those used in the dental industry for the manufacture of dental hygiene articles or instruments. This includes dental grade plastics, metals, composites, and/or alloys. However, in a representative embodiment of the invention, and not limited hereby, the dental hygiene article components are fabricated from a thermoplastic material, such as celluloid, acrylics, fluoroplastics, polycarbonates, polyethylenes, polypropylenes, polyurethanes, polyvinyl chloride, or the like, that is constructed either by injecting the heated plastic into a shape-forming mold and/or vacuum forming the plastic and then cooling the plastic into the desired shapes, as appropriate. Various other materials that may be used and methods for molding them into desired configurations are set forth in the Modern Plastics Encyclopedia 1995 and Plastics Engineering Handbook of the Society of the Plastics Industry, Inc., edited by Michael L. Berins, 1991, the disclosures of which are hereby incorporated herein their entirety by reference.
  • [0051]
    As summarized above the subject invention is directed, in representative embodiments, to a dental hygiene article, such as a toothbrush, that includes a proximal portion that contains both a head assembly and a retractable stem portion, a chamber portion, and a distal portion that may be a detachable handle. In a representative embodiment of the dental hygiene article of the subject invention, the head assembly is attached by an attachment element to the proximal end of the stem portion. The stem portion is retractably attached to the chamber portion, to which is also attached (e.g., detachably attached) the proximal end of the distal portion. These various components will now be described below with particular regard given to the function they perform and how they interconnect with the various other components of the toothbrush.
  • [0052]
    One component of the subject invention is a head assembly. The head assembly may include one or both of a tooth engaging element and an attachment element. Typically, the tooth engaging element is a toothbrush which comprises a plurality of bristles disposed on a first surface, for instance nylon fiber filaments or the like. However, in other embodiments the tooth engaging element can be a rubber, metal, or plastic assembly, for instance, in the shape of a scraper, pick, or hook, etc. Additionally, the head assembly may include an attachment element for operatively connecting the head assembly to a proximal end of the stem portion of the device. The attachment element may be a pivot element, hinge element, a ratcheting element, a ball and swivel element, a rotatable element, a detachment element, or the like.
  • [0053]
    The attachment element joins the head assembly to the retractable stem portion. In one representative embodiment, the attachment element is a pivot element that allows the head assembly to collapse into a chamber element, when the retractable proximal portion is in a retracted configuration. In this embodiment, or any other embodiment wherein the head assembly is capable of moving in relation to the stem portion, the attachment element may also include a locking mechanism to prevent the head assembly from collapsing or folding when the retractable proximal portion is in an extended configuration and/or the device is in use.
  • [0054]
    For instance, in one embodiment, the attachment element comprises a ratcheting element that allows the angle of the head assembly to change in relation to the stem portion. In this embodiment, the angle of the head assembly may be varied from an angle of about 180° relative to the stem portion in an extended formation to an angle of about 90° relative to the stem portion in a collapsed formation. The ratcheting element, or any other attachment element, may further comprise a locking mechanism, such as a locking pin or the like, so as to lock the head assembly into a desired angle and preventing it from further collapsing. Such angled formations may be useful in accessing certain areas of the mouth, such as the molars.
  • [0055]
    In another embodiment, the head assembly is formed in conjunction with, and as part of a retractable stem portion of the device, where in this configuration the head assembly does not include a separate attachment element, but instead the head assembly is coextensive with, and forms part of the stem portion. The head assembly may also include a loop that is configured for aiding in the extending and retracting of the proximal portion of the device. In an additional embodiment, the head assembly is removable from the rest of the device and/or replaceable. In this embodiment the head assembly can be, for example, adapted to snap or screw into the stem portion, so that the head assembly is stably secured during use as well as during extension and retraction of the stem portion.
  • [0056]
    As noted above, the head assembly may be attached to a stem portion. A feature of the stem portion is that it is retractable, for instance, sequentially retractable, much like a telescope, or retractable in that it can fold one or more times, to allow the head assembly to be encased within the chamber portion. Accordingly, in one embodiment, the retractable stem portion is a single segment that is capable of retracting entirely into the distal portion of the device. In another embodiment, the stem portion is a plurality of segments, wherein each segment of the stem portion is configured for retracting one within another (i.e., telescoping), such that in a retracted configuration the retractable stem portion is completely retracted inside itself, and may further be retracted inside the chamber portion and/or the distal portion of the device, so as to be completely contained within the chamber and/or distal portions after retracting. Additionally, as is described in more detail below, one or more segments of the retractable stem portion may comprise a notch, which is configured for aiding the folding or collapse of the toothbrush head assembly into the chamber portion when the stem portion is in a retracted configuration. See FIG. 5A for greater detail of exemplary embodiments.
  • [0057]
    In another embodiment, the proximal portion comprises a head assembly and a stem portion, wherein the stem portion is a planar segment to which is attached a plurality of attachment elements, for instance, folding or pivoting attachment elements that allow the proximal portion (or at least portion of the proximal portion, e.g., the head assembly) to retract. A first attachment element connects the stem portion with the chamber portion and is configured for allowing the proximal portion to pivot and fold at an angle of about 90° with respect to the chamber. A second attachment element connects the stem portion with the head assembly, and is configured for allowing the head assembly to fold at an angle of about 90° with respect to the stem portion, thereby allowing the head assembly to retract within the chamber portion of the device. See for instance, FIGS. 13A-13E. In another embodiment, the entire proximal portion is detachably attached to the chamber portion
  • [0058]
    As described in greater detail below, once the retractable stem portion is retracted, the head assembly may either be directly and entirely encased in a lumen of the chamber portion or the head assembly may be folded away from the plane of the stem portion and collapsed to be entirely encased in the lumen of the chamber (e.g., where a moveable attachment element is provided). In either case, the end result is the retraction of the proximal portion into the chamber portion.
  • [0059]
    The retractable stem portion may also comprise a spring element, biased in the extended configuration, and an actuator (located on the distal portion) capable of locking the spring into a compressed configuration. In this embodiment, the retractable stem portion is naturally in an extended formation and is compressed by the application of a force toward the chamber portion such that when the retractable stem portion is retracted and locked into place by the actuator, the spring element is in a compressed formation, thereby storing kinetic energy that may be released upon depressing the locking actuator. Once the locking actuator mechanism is depressed (actuated), the kinetic energy is released thereby returning the retractable stem portion to an extended configuration.
  • [0060]
    Of course, where a biased spring is used, the spring may alternatively be biased in the compressed formation. In this embodiment, the retractable stem portion is naturally in a retracted configuration and must be extended by the application of a force away from the chamber portion and locked by a locking actuator before use. Thus, when the stem portion is extended and locked into place kinetic energy is thereby stored which may be released upon depressing the actuator, releasing the spring, and thereby returning the stem portion to a contracted configuration. It is to be understood, that a biased spring need not be used, in which case the retractable proximal portion may be retracted and expanded by manually applying the relevant forces thereto.
  • [0061]
    As set forth above, a further component of the subject invention is a chamber portion, at least a portion of which is adapted for receiving an additive which can be a fluid, powder, pill, suspension, or the like, but is usually a fluid. For instance, in one embodiment, the additive is a pill, tablet, or powder that is added to an antechamber that is in communication with the chamber. The pill, tablet, or powder may then be dissolved or reconstituted upon addition of a fluid, such as water. However, in general, the additive comprises one or more active ingredients, which can aid in maintenance of a clean head assembly, delivery of an agent to the mouth, or both, and the chamber can be fillable or prefilled. In one embodiment, the additive comprises one or more antiseptic agents. Such antiseptic agents include, but are not limited to lidocaine, amylase inhibitors (e.g., hibiscus, hibiscus-acid, roselle tea or extracts thereof, tannin, starch blockers and the like), glucosidase-inhibitors, fluoride, chlorhexidine, green tea or extracts, anise, tea tree oil and extracts, oil of cloves, hydrogen peroxide, tetracycline, sodium bicarbonate, lysozyme, or any other agents beneficial to oral health and/or that promote good oral hygiene (e.g., through reduction of bleeding, inflammation, pain, and the like while brushing) may also be included.
  • [0062]
    In another embodiment, the additive comprises a medicament suitable for use in conjunction with the subject invention. Exemplary medicaments include antibacterial, antimicrobial, antibiotic medicament, or the like. Other exemplary therapeutic agents that may be added to the chamber include, but are not necessarily limited to procoagulants, analgesics, anti-inflammatory agents, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (e.g., aspirin, diflunisal, fenoprofen calcium, naproxen, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, ketoprofen, tolmetin sodium, indomethacin, and the like), and the like. Other active agents may include immunoglobulins, such as antibodies (e.g. polycloneal or monoclonal antibodies) specific for S. epidermidis, P. aeruginosa, S. aureus, S. sanguis, S. mutans, Bacteroides gingivalis, Streptococci and Enterococci. Other agents include anti-tussives (e.g., benzonatate, caramiphen edisylate, menthol, dextromethorphan hydrobromide, chlophedianol hydrochloride, and the like), narcotic analgesics (e.g., morphine, heroin, hydromorphone, metopon, oxymorphone, levorphanol, codeine, hydrocodone, xycodone, nalorphine, naloxone, naltrexone and the like), epinephrine, stimulants (caffeine, nicotine, and the like), analgesic antipyretics (e.g., such as salycilates, phenylbutazone, indomethacin, phenacetin and the like), iron salts (e.g., ferric sulfate), vitamin C (ascorbic acid), and the like.
  • [0063]
    Other agents for use as an additive may also be included, such as whiteners, mouthwash, artificial colors, flavors, and the like.
  • [0064]
    A feature of the chamber portion is that it may be adapted for receiving one or both of the head assembly and the retractable stem portion, dependent on how the chamber portion is designed. In one embodiment, the chamber is fabricated as a single unit and is coextensive with one or both of the proximal and distal portions. See for instance FIG. 12A. According to this embodiment, the chamber is adapted for receiving both the retractable stem portion and toothbrush head assembly (i.e., the entire proximal portion), when the retractable stem portion is retracted entirely into itself and further received within the chamber and/or distal portion. FIG. 12A shows a representative chamber of the invention, wherein the retractable proximal portion is entirely received into the chamber portion and it is noted that the head assembly, which is non-collapsible, is also entirely encased within the chamber portion.
  • [0065]
    In another variation of this embodiment, the chamber can be configured in such a way that the retractable stem portion is received within the chamber and passes through the lumen of the chamber and is received within a lumen of the distal portion (i.e., the handle). In this configuration the handle portion includes a lumen within which the retractable stem portion retracts such that the head assembly will be encased within the lumen of the chamber and the retractable stem is largely or entirely encased in the lumen of the distal handle portion. In either embodiment, retraction of the stem, which optionally may require collapsing or folding of the head assembly, provides for positioning of the head assembly within the chamber. FIG. 12B shows a representative embodiment of the chamber, wherein the retractable stem is entirely retracted into the chamber portion and the head assembly is in a collapsed configuration and entirely encased within the chamber portion.
  • [0066]
    In one embodiment, the chamber may comprise two sub-chambers separated by a wall, wherein one sub-chamber receives the retractable stem portion when in its retracted formation and the other sub-chamber receives the head assembly, when in its collapsed formation. See FIG. 12C for an example. In this embodiment, the wall is configured for impeding movement of the additive (e.g., a fluid, powder, suspension, or the like) from entering the sub-chamber that receives the retractable stem portion.
  • [0067]
    In a further representative embodiment, the chamber may be separately fabricated and removably attached to the core elongate member, wherein the chamber is adapted for receiving only the head assembly after the retractable stem portion is retracted (e.g., within the distal portion) and when the head assembly is in a collapsed configuration. See FIG. 12D for an exemplary embodiment. It is to be noted that in this configuration, both the chamber and the head assembly may be removable and used in conjunction with one another, without regard to the other components (e.g., stem and/or distal portions). Additionally, the chamber and/or antechamber can be configured to be compressed. In one embodiment, the chamber and antechamber are composed of one or more plastic segments that can retract and/or “telescope” into one another on either side of the stem, making them reducible much like an accordion when not in use, so as to facilitate transport. When the device is in use, the sides of the chamber and/or antechamber can be re-extended to their full width.
  • [0068]
    Another feature of the chamber of the subject invention is that it is configured for opening and closing so as to receive both the retractable stem portion and the head assembly. Accordingly, when in an open configuration the retractable stem portion may retract and the head assembly may collapse within the chamber, which can then be closed in such a way that an additive (e.g., a fluid) may be added to the chamber and not leak or spill out of the chamber when the chamber closure is in a closed configuration. The chamber closure may be in any configuration, such as a slideable door or sealable cap, so long as it is capable of sealing the opening through which the retractable stem portion and the head assembly pass.
  • [0069]
    Additionally, the chamber and/or antechamber may be constructed from a transparent material and may have markers inside indicating the amount or level of fluid that is inside the antechamber and/or chamber and thereby indicating an appropriate fill level. The antechamber and/or fill chamber may also be coated with a non-stick material coating (such as Teflon) to prevent particles, bacteria, and/the like from adhering to it.
  • [0070]
    In one representative embodiment, the chamber includes one or more fluid fill ports, which may be configured as an antechamber(s), capable of opening and closing, that is in communication (e.g., fluid communication) with the lumen of the chamber portion and is adapted for receiving and containing a liquid, suspension, powder, or the like. Alternatively the chamber can be pre-filled and sealed (e.g., once the additive is depleted the device is thrown away.
  • [0071]
    In one embodiment, the fluid fill port additionally contains a moveable divider that is capable of opening and closing, such that in an open configuration a contained fluid or the like may be communicated into the lumen of the chamber. The divider therefore separates the lumen of the fill port from the lumen of the chamber. The divider may be made of any material suitable for preventing the communication of an element in the fill port into the lumen of the chamber while in a closed configuration (e.g., plastic).
  • [0072]
    In one representative embodiment, the chamber comprises two (i.e., a first and a second) antechambers, which in turn each comprise a divider. The antechambers may be filled with the same or different additives. In one embodiment, the antechambers are each filled with a different additive, which are therefore separated from one another by the antechambers and may be mixed by opening the divider and communicating the additives into the main chamber where they may then be mixed.
  • [0073]
    A further component of the subject invention is a distal portion, such as a handle portion. In a representative embodiment, the handle may be detachable from the chamber. Accordingly, the handle can be fabricated as part of and coextensive with the chamber of the device, or it may be made separately, and attached to the chamber portion. In a representative embodiment, the distal portion (e.g., the handle) includes a locking actuator that is configured for facilitating the extension and/or retraction of the retractable stem portion. Additionally, the distal portion may also include a removable floss dispenser with an applicable dispensing or outlet port. In this embodiment, the distal portion may include a detachable (e.g., screw off) base member that allows access to the floss dispenser so as to enable a user to replace the floss spool once it has run out of floss.
  • [0074]
    In a further embodiment, a core elongate member may be included and be configured to form a body portion of the device to which one ore more of the other components (e.g., proximal, chamber, or distal portions) are attached.
  • [0075]
    In a further object of the invention, a method of using the subject dental hygiene article is provided, which includes using the dental hygiene article, e.g., toothbrush, opening the chamber, retracting the proximal portion into the chamber and/or distal portion, collapsing the head assembly, if necessary, closing the chamber, adding an additive into the fill port, if the chamber is not already pre-filled, disengaging the divider, if necessary, and shaking the chamber so as to cause the communication of the additive into the chamber and into contact with the head assembly. Accordingly, prior to next use the chamber may be opened and the retractable proximal portion can be extended, dependent on how it is configured, by depressing the actuator.
  • EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS
  • [0076]
    Various embodiments of the subject invention will now be described with reference to the figures. For clarity and convenience, the head assembly is exemplified in the figures and below as a toothbrush head assembly. However, as described above, other embodiments of head assemblies are contemplated by the invention. FIGS. 1A-1G show perspective views of an exemplary dental hygiene article 10 according to an illustrative, but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention. As can be seen in FIG. 1A the dental hygiene article (e.g., toothbrush) of the invention 10 includes a proximal portion 11, a chamber portion 16, and a distal portion 18. The proximal portion 11 comprises a head assembly 12 (e.g., a toothbrush head assembly), which includes a tooth engaging element (e.g., bristles) 8, and a retractable stem portion 14. In the embodiment of FIG. 1A the toothbrush head assembly forms part of the stem portion (e.g., no attachment element is used), however, the head assembly can also be non-collapsibly attached to the retractable stem portion, for instance, by non-collapsible attachment element 6 of FIG. 1B. Accordingly, in either of these two configurations the toothbrush head assembly does not pivot, rotate, collapse, or detach, although by adding the appropriate attachment element the toothbrush head assembly can be configured to pivot, rotate, and/or detach in relation to the retractable stem portion, but should not be made capable of collapsing. Additionally, as shown in FIG. 1A the toothbrush head assembly may optionally comprise a loop 28 that is configured for aiding in extending and/or retracting of the proximal portion 11 into the chamber portion 16, as described in more detail below.
  • [0077]
    The stem portion 14 further includes segments 14 a, 14 b, 14 c, and 14 d, etc. all of which are configured for retracting one within the other, like a telescope. It is to be understood that although only four stem portion segments (14 a, 14 b, 14 c, and 14 d) are shown, this is for illustrative purposes only, as the number of said segments can be greater or fewer dependent upon how the toothbrush is configured and may include any number of segments, so long as they are capable of both retracting one within another and entirely retracting within the chamber portion 16 and/or distal portion 18 of the toothbrush, as will be described in more detail below, so as to be completely contained within the chamber and/or distal portions (16 and 18, respectively).
  • [0078]
    The chamber portion 16 separates the proximal portion 11 from the distal portion 18 and in one representative embodiment is configured for receiving the proximal portion 11, when it is in a retracted configuration. For example, see FIG. 1F, wherein is shown the retractable proximal portion 11 in a completely retracted configuration. As can be seen, the proximal portion 11 is in a completely retracted configuration that is entirely contained within the chamber portion 16 and the toothbrush head assembly 12 is encased within the lumen of the chamber portion 16, such that when the chamber 16 is filled with a fluid, suspension, powder, or the like the toothbrush head assembly 12 will be in direct communication therewith. In another representative embodiment, the distal portion 18 can be configured to include a lumen (not shown) into which the retractable stem portion 14 in a retracted configuration retracts into. In this configuration, the retractable stem portion 14 will retract and pass through the lumen of the chamber portion 16 before further retracting into the lumen of the distal portion 18. However, the toothbrush head assembly 12, will remain in the lumen of the chamber 16.
  • [0079]
    The chamber portion 16, further includes a closure 20 that is capable of opening and closing, for instance, a cap that is configured to close the opening in the chamber portion 16 through which the proximal portion 11 retracts, so that an additive (e.g., a fluid) may be added to the chamber and not leak or spill out of the chamber when the closure 20 is in a closed configuration. The cap may be separate from the device, or as shown, tethered to the device. The chamber 16 additionally includes a fill port 22 that is in communication with the chamber portion 16. The fill port 22 is capable of opening and closing, and is configured for receiving an additive, such as: a fluid, powder, suspension, or the like and communicating said additive into the chamber 16. In one representative embodiment, the fill port 22 may be separated from the chamber by a moveable divider (not shown) that separates the fill port 22 from the chamber 16. The divider is capable of opening and closing, such that in an open configuration a fluid or the like contained with in the fill port 22 may be communicated into the lumen of the chamber 16. The divider therefore can separate the lumen of the fill port from the lumen of the chamber until, for example, the head assembly and stem are retracted and the chamber closed.
  • [0080]
    The distal portion 18 includes a handle. In one representative embodiment, as seen in FIG. 9, the distal portion (i.e., handle) includes a detachable connection 19 thereby making the distal portion detachable. Additionally, the distal portion 18 may include an actuator 24, as described above, for facilitating the extension and/or retraction of the retractable stem portion 14. The distal portion 18 may also include a floss dispenser 32 (see FIG. 10) with an applicable dispensing or outlet port 26. The floss dispenser can be fixed or removable, and may optionally be refillable.
  • [0081]
    FIGS. 1B-1E show front, side, and back views of the toothbrush 10 of the subject invention. As can be seen, FIGS. 1B-1E show a head assembly 12 that includes a detachable, albeit non-collapsible, attachment element 6, that is included between toothbrush head assembly 12 and retractable proximal portion 14, for detaching the head assembly 12 from the retractable stem portion 14. Additionally, a fill port 22, a retraction actuator 24, and a dental floss outlet 26 are also shown. FIG. 1G shows a bottom view of the toothbrush. Where the floss dispenser is refillable, base member 100 comprises a removable cap (see FIG. 1G).
  • [0082]
    FIGS. 2A-2G show perspective front, side, and back views of the dental hygiene article of FIG. 1, wherein a loop is not included.
  • [0083]
    FIGS. 3A-3E show perspective views of the embodiment of the toothbrush 10 of FIGS. 1A-1E with a modification to the chamber portion. As can be seen in FIGS. 3A-3E the toothbrush 10 of the invention includes a proximal portion 11 that comprises a head assembly 12 having a tooth engaging element (e.g., bristles) 8, and a retractable stem portion 14; a chamber portion 16; and a distal portion 18. The chamber portion 16 of this representative embodiment has been modified to include a plurality of fill ports demarcated as 22 a and 22 b. As described above, the fill ports 22 a and 22 b are configured as small antechambers that are capable of opening and closing and are adapted for receiving and containing a liquid, suspension, powder, or the like. Fill ports 22 a and 22 b are in communication with the main chamber and may include additional dividers (23 a and 23 b) that are capable of opening and closing, such that in an open configuration a contained or added additive (e.g., a fluid or the like) may be communicated into the lumen of the chamber 16. The dividers 23 a and 23 b therefore separate the lumen of the fill ports 22 a and 22 b from the lumen of the chamber 16.
  • [0084]
    FIG. 4 shows the route of retraction for the retractable proximal portion 11 of a toothbrush 10 of the subject invention. As described above, each segment of the retractable stem portion 14 retracts one within the other. For instance, segment 14 a retracts within segment 14 b. Segment 14 b, which encases segment 14 a, retracts within segment 14 c. Segment 14 c, which encases both segments 14 a and 14 b, retracts within segment 14 d. Segment 14 d, which encases all of segments 14 a, 14 b, and 14 c, retracts entirely within the chamber portion 16, in such a manner that both segment 14 d (which encases segments 14 a, 14 b, and 14 c) and the head assembly 12, are completely encased within the lumen of the chamber portion 16. Once the proximal portion 11 (i.e., the head assembly 12 and retractable stem portion 14) are entirely encased within the chamber portion 16, the closure 20 may then be placed over the opening through which the proximal portion 11 are retracted, so as to completely seal the chamber portion 16. The fill port 22 may then be filled, for instance with a fluid, that can be communicated into the chamber 16. In this manner the tooth engagement element 8 may be stored and treated (e.g., by a medicament) within the chamber portion 16. Also shown in FIG. 4 is an actuator 24, as described above, for facilitating the extension and/or retraction of the retractable proximal portion 14 into the chamber portion 16, and a removable floss dispenser 30 with a floss dispensing outlet port 26.
  • [0085]
    FIGS. 5A-5G show perspective views of an exemplary dental hygiene article 110 according to an illustrative, but non-limiting embodiment of the present invention. As can be seen in FIG. 5A the dental hygiene article (e.g., toothbrush) of the invention 110 includes a proximal portion 111, a chamber portion 116, and a distal portion 118. The proximal portion 111 comprises a toothbrush head assembly 112, which includes a tooth engaging element (e.g., bristles) 108, and a stem portion 114. In this embodiment, the toothbrush head assembly 112 is not formed in conjunction with the retractable stem portion and, therefore, includes an attachment element 113 that is configured for both operatively connecting the toothbrush head assembly 112 to the retractable stem portion 114 and allowing the toothbrush head assembly 112 to collapse into the chamber portion 116 when the retractable stem portion 114 is in a retracted configuration. See, for instance, FIG. 5F, which shows the retractable proximal portion 111, including the retractable stem portion 114 and collapsible head assembly 112, entirely retracted and collapsed within the chamber portion 116, as described in more detail below. Because of the included attachment element 113 the toothbrush head assembly 112 can be configured for pivoting, rotating, ratcheting, collapsing, and the like, dependent upon the nature of the attachment element used. It will be noted, that the stem portion 114 includes a notch portion 115 which is located at attachment element 113, and is configured for facilitating the collapse of the toothbrush head assembly 112. A locking element (not shown) may also be included so as to lock the toothbrush head assembly 112 in place when the proximal portion 114 is in an extended configuration. The present invention encompasses a multitude of various lock configurations, including pins, clamps, spring-loaded locks, a locking mechanism which co-acts with a pair of locking projections on the ante-chamber, splines, or keys.
  • [0086]
    Additionally, as shown in FIG. 5A the toothbrush head assembly may optionally comprise a loop 128 that is configured for aiding in extending or retracting the proximal portion 111 into the chamber portion 116. Although it is not shown, the toothbrush head assembly 112 may be configured so as to be detachable, as well as collapsible and the like, and therefore a removable and collapsible, etc. attachment(s) may be included between toothbrush head assembly 112 and retractable proximal portion 114.
  • [0087]
    The stem portion 114 further includes segments 114 a, 114 b, 114 c, and 114 d, etc. all of which are configured for retracting one within the other, like a telescope. It is to be understood that although only four proximal portion segments (114 a, 114 b, 114 c, and 114 d) are shown, this is for illustrative purposes only as the number of said segments can be greater or fewer dependent upon how the toothbrush is configured and may include any number of segments, so long as they are capable of both retracting one within another and entirely retracting within the chamber portion 116 and/or proximal portion 118 of the toothbrush so as to be completely contained within the chamber and/or distal portions (116 and 118, respectively). Additionally, one or more of the retractable stem portion segments (114 a, 114 b, 114 c, and 114 d) may contain a notch 115, which is configured to facilitate the collapse of the toothbrush head assembly 112 into the chamber portion 116. See for instance, notches 115 a, 115 b, 115 c, and 115 d of FIG. 5B.
  • [0088]
    The chamber portion 116 separates the proximal portion 111 from the distal portion 118, and in one representative embodiment is configured for receiving the proximal portion 111, when in a retracted formation, including the head assembly 112, when in a collapsed configuration. For example, see FIG. 5F, wherein is shown the proximal portion 111 including head assembly 112 in a completely retracted and collapsed configuration. As can be seen, the proximal portion 111 is in a completely retracted configuration that is entirely contained within the chamber portion 116 and the head assembly 112 is collapsed and entirely encased within the lumen of the chamber portion 116, such that when the chamber 116 is filled with an additive (for instance, a fluid, etc.) the toothbrush head assembly 112 will be in direct communication therewith. The chamber portion 116, further includes a closure 120 that is capable of opening and closing, for instance, a sliding door, that is configured to close the opening in the chamber portion 116 through which the proximal portion 111 retracts, so that an additive may be added to the chamber and not leak or spill out of the chamber when the closure is in a closed configuration.
  • [0089]
    The chamber 116 may further include a separate fill port 122 that is in communication with the chamber portion 116. The fill port 122 is a small antechamber that is capable of opening and closing and is configured for receiving and storing an additive, such as a fluid, powder, suspension, or the like and communicating said additive into the chamber 116. In one representative embodiment, the fill port further includes a separator (not shown) that separates the fill port 122 from the chamber 116. The separator is capable of opening and closing, such that in an open configuration a fluid or the like contained with in the fill port 122 may be communicated into the lumen of the main chamber 116. The separator therefore separates the lumen of the fill port from the lumen of the chamber.
  • [0090]
    The proximal portion 118 includes a handle that includes a retraction actuator 124 for facilitating the extension and/or retraction of the retractable proximal portion 114, and may include a removable floss dispenser (not shown) and a floss dispensing outlet port (not shown). (See also FIG. 10.)
  • [0091]
    FIGS. 5B-5E show front, side, and back views of a representative embodiment of the toothbrush 110 of the subject invention. As can be seen, FIGS. 5B-5E show a head assembly 112 that includes a detachable attachment element 106 that is included between toothbrush head assembly 112 and the collapsible attachment element 113. A plurality of retractable stem portions (114 a, 114 b, 114 c, and 114 d) and notch portions (115 a, 115 b, 115 c, and 115 d), that are configured for facilitating the collapse of the head assembly 112 when the retractable stem portion 114 is in a retracted configuration and encased within the chamber portion 116, may also be seen. The number and configuration of the notches should correspond to the number and configuration of the retractable proximal portion segments. Not shown is a locking mechanism (as described above) that may be included so as to prevent the collapsible head assembly from collapsing when the retractable proximal portion is in an extended configuration. It is noted, however, that such a locking element is not needed, although it may be included, as the force applied to the head element 112 while in use should be sufficient to prevent the head assembly from collapsing. A closure 120, a fill port 122, a retraction actuator 128, and a dental floss outlet 126 are also shown.
  • [0092]
    FIG. 5G shows a bottom view of the toothbrush. Where the floss dispenser is refillable, base member 200 comprises a removable cap (see FIG. 5G).
  • [0093]
    FIGS. 6A-6G show perspective views of the dental hygiene article of FIG. 5A, wherein a loop is not included.
  • [0094]
    FIGS. 7A-7G show perspective views of the embodiment of the toothbrush 110 of FIGS. 5A-5G with a modification to the chamber portion. As can be seen in FIGS. 7A-7E the toothbrush 110 of the invention includes a retractable proximal portion 111, a chamber portion 116, and a distal portion 118. The retractable proximal portion comprises a head assembly 112, which includes a tooth engaging element (e.g., bristles) 108, and a retractable proximal portion 114. The chamber portion 116 of this representative embodiment includes a plurality of fill ports demarcated as 122 a and 122 b. As described above, the fill ports 122 a and 122 b are configured as small antechambers that are capable of opening and closing and are adapted for receiving and containing a liquid, suspension, powder, or the like. Fill ports 122 a and 122 b are in communication with the main chamber and may include additional separators (123 a and 123 b) that are capable of opening and closing, such that in an open configuration a contained additive (e.g., a fluid or the like) may be communicated into the lumen of the chamber 116. The separators 123 a and 123 b therefore separate the lumen of the fill ports 122 a and 122 b from the lumen of the chamber 116.
  • [0095]
    FIG. 8 shows the route of retraction for the retractable proximal portion 111 of a toothbrush 110 of the subject invention. As described above, the head assembly 110 is configured for collapsing as indicated and each segment of the retractable stem portion 114 retracts one with in the other. For instance, segment 114 a retracts within segment 114 b. Segment 114 b, which encases segment 114 a, retracts within segment 114 c. Segment 114 c, which encases both segments 114 a and 114 b, retracts within segment 114 d. Segment 114 d, which encases all of segments 114 a, 114 b, and 114 c, then retracts entirely within the chamber portion 116, in such a manner that both segment 114 d (which encases segments 114 a, 114 b, and 114 c) and the collapsed head assembly 112, are completely encased within the lumen of the chamber portion 116. Notches 115 a, 115 b, 115 c, and 115 d, if included should therefore be lined up so as to allow the head assembly to collapse within the chamber portion.
  • [0096]
    Accordingly, once the proximal portion 111 is retracted (i.e., the head assembly 112 is collapsed and the retractable proximal portion 114 retracted), and is entirely encased within the chamber portion 116, the closure 120 (e.g., a slideable door) may then be slid over the opening through which the retractable proximal portion 111 retracted, so as to completely seal the chamber portion 116. The fill port 122 may then be filled, for instance with a fluid, that can be communicated into the chamber 116. In this manner the tooth engagement element 108 may be stored and treated (e.g., by a medicament) within the chamber portion 116. Also shown in FIG. 8 is an actuator 124, as described above, for facilitating the extension and/or retraction of the retractable proximal portion 114 into the chamber portion 116, a removable floss dispenser 132 with an applicable dispensing or outlet port 126, and a detachable handle element 140 that is configured for detaching the handle portion from the chamber portion.
  • [0097]
    FIG. 9 shows a perspective view of a removable handle portion 18 with an attachment element 19 a that detachably attaches to an attachment element 19 b of the chamber portion 16. The attachment elements 19 a and 19 b may be in any configuration so long as they are capable of interlocking so as to detachably attach the proximal portion to the chamber portion.
  • [0098]
    FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a detachable proximal portion 118 that includes a removable floss dispenser 130 and a removable base member 100 for accessing the removable floss dispenser. A floss dispensing outlet port (not shown) is also included.
  • [0099]
    FIG. 11 shows a perspective view of a representative embodiment of a toothbrush 10 of the subject invention with an additive (e.g., medicament) dispenser 50 for delivering an additive into a fill port 22.
  • [0100]
    FIGS. 12A-12E show representative embodiments of different configurations for the chamber portion of the subject invention.
  • [0101]
    FIGS. 13A-13E shows a perspective view of representative embodiments of a proximal portion 11, a chamber portion 16 configured for snuggly receiving a toothbrush head assembly 12, and a distal portion 18. The proximal portion 11 comprises a head assembly 12 and a stem portion 14. The proximal portion 11 further comprises two attachment elements 17 and 19. In one embodiment, a first attachment element 17 is a hinged attachment element that is configured for allowing the proximal portion 11 to pivot in relation to the chamber portion 16. The attachment element may be any element that will allow the proximal portion (and consequently the head assembly) to pivot at or about a 90° angle in relation to the chamber portion. See for instance FIG. 13 C, wherein the proximal portion is in a folded configuration.
  • [0102]
    Additionally, the proximal portion 11 further comprises a second attachment element 19, which may be located between the head assembly 12 and the stem portion 14. The second attachment element 19 may be another hinged attachment element 19 that is configured for allowing the head assembly 12 to pivot in relation to the stem portion 14. This attachment element may be any element that will allow the head assembly 12 to pivot at or about a 90° angle in relation to the proximal portion, so that when in a folded configuration the head assembly can be snugly fitted within the chamber portion. See for instance FIG. 13 D, wherein the proximal portion 11 is in a folded configuration and the head assembly 12 is folded and as can be seen is snugly fit into the chamber portion 16. The distal portion 18 may also include a detachable attachment (not shown) to further make the toothbrush more compact and easier to transport.

Claims (29)

  1. 1. A dental hygiene article, comprising:
    a retractable proximal portion comprising a head assembly and a stem portion;
    a distal handle portion;
    and a chamber portion, connecting said proximal portion and said distal portion, and configured for receiving said proximal portion.
  2. 2. The dental hygiene article according to claim 1, wherein said stem portion is capable of retracting through said chamber and into a lumen of the distal portion.
  3. 3. The dental hygiene article according to claim 1, wherein said stem portion comprises a plurality of segments, configured for sequentially retracting one within the other.
  4. 4. The dental hygiene article according to claim 3, wherein said chamber portion is configured for receiving said proximal portion when the segments of said stem portion are in a retracted configuration.
  5. 5. The dental hygiene article according to claim 4, wherein said chamber is configured to completely contain said head assembly and said stem portion after the segments of the stem portion are completely retracted.
  6. 6. The dental hygiene article according to claim 4, wherein said head assembly is pivotably connected to said stem portion and configured to collapse into and be completely contained within said chamber after collapsing.
  7. 7. The dental hygiene article according to claim 6, wherein said stem portion further comprises one or more notches for facilitating said collapse of the toothbrush head assembly into the chamber.
  8. 8. The dental hygiene article according to claim 6, wherein said chamber comprises a divider that defines a stem portion receiving sub-chamber and a head assembly receiving sub-chamber.
  9. 9. The dental hygiene article according to claim 8, wherein said head assembly receiving sub-chamber is further configured for receiving an additive from an external source.
  10. 10. The dental hygiene article according to claim 9, wherein said additive is prevented from entering said stem portion receiving sub-chamber by said divider.
  11. 11. The dental hygiene article according to claim 8, wherein said external source comprises a fill port attached to said chamber portion.
  12. 12. The dental hygiene article according to claim 1, wherein said chamber further comprises a fill port adapted for receiving an additive.
  13. 13. The dental hygiene article according to claim 12, wherein a lumen of said fill port is separated from a lumen of the chamber by a removable separator.
  14. 14. The dental hygiene article according to claim 13, wherein said additive is prevented from entering said chamber by said separator.
  15. 15. The dental hygiene article according to claim 12, wherein said chamber further comprises a second fill port adapted for receiving an additive.
  16. 16. The dental hygiene article according to claim 15, wherein said first and second fill ports comprise a first and second lumen that are both separated from a lumen of the chamber by a first and second removable divider.
  17. 17. The dental hygiene article according to claim 11, wherein said additive comprises a member selected from the group comprising: an antibacterial medicament, an antimicrobial medicament, an antibiotic medicament, a procoagulant, an analgesic, an anti-inflammatory agent, an antiseptic, a whitener, an immunoglobulin, an antibody, a monoclonal antibody specific for S. epidermidis, monoclonal antibody specific for P. aeruginosa, monoclonal antibody specific for S. aureus, monoclonal antibody specific for S. sanguis, monoclonal antibody specific for S. mutans, monoclonal antibody specific for Bacteroides gingivalis, monoclonal antibody specific for Streptococci, monoclonal antibody specific for Enterococci, lidocaine, amylase inhibitors, hibiscus, hibiscus-acid, roselle tea or extracts thereof, tannin, starch blockers, glucosidase-inhibitors, fluoride, chlorhexidine, green tea or extracts, anise, tea tree oil and extracts, epinephrine, oil of cloves, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents, aspirin, diflunisal, fenoprofen calcium, naproxen, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, ketoprofen, tolmetin sodium, indomethacin, an anti-tussive, a benzonatate, a caramiphen edisylate, a menthol, a dextromethorphan hydrobromide, a chlophedianol hydrochloride, a narcotic analgesics, morphine, heroin, hydromorphone, metopon, oxymorphone, levorphanol, codeine, hydrocodone, xycodone, nalorphine, naloxone, naltrexone, a stimulant, caffeine, nicotine, an analgesic antipyretic, a salycilate, phenylbutazone, indomethacin, phenacetin, iron salt, ferric sulfate, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), hydrogen peroxide, tetracycline, sodium bicarbonate, and lysozyme.
  18. 18. The dental hygiene article according to claim 1, wherein said head assembly comprises a toothbrush head assembly.
  19. 19. The dental hygiene article according to claim 18, wherein said tooth brush head assembly comprises bristles extended there from.
  20. 20. The dental hygiene article according to claim 1, wherein said head assembly is detachable from said stem portion.
  21. 21. The dental hygiene article according to claim 1, wherein said proximal portion is adapted for removal from said chamber portion.
  22. 22. The dental hygiene article according to claim 1, wherein said distal portion is adapted for removal from said chamber portion.
  23. 23. The dental hygiene article according to claim 3, wherein said stem portion further comprises a biased spring to facilitate retraction of said stem portion.
  24. 24. The dental hygiene article according to claim 23, wherein said distal portion further comprises an actuator to effect retraction of said stem portion.
  25. 25. The dental hygiene article according to claim 3, wherein said stem portion further comprises a biased spring to facilitate extension of said stem portion.
  26. 26. The dental hygiene article according to claim 25, wherein said distal portion further comprises an actuator to facilitate extension of said stem portion.
  27. 27. The dental hygiene article according to claim 1, wherein said distal portion comprises a removable floss dispenser and outlet port.
  28. 28. The dental hygiene article according to claim 1, wherein said head assembly further comprises a loop configured for use in removing head assembly from said chamber.
  29. 29. A dental hygiene article according to claim 1, wherein said head assembly is pivotably attached to said stem portion and said stem portion is pivotably attached to said chamber portion.
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Cited By (4)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
WO2008112589A1 (en) * 2007-03-09 2008-09-18 Mitra Ahadpour Toothbrush having a plurality of replacable heads configured to clean a plurality of oral surfaces simultaneously
US20090313778A1 (en) * 2008-06-20 2009-12-24 Colgate-Palmolive Toothbrush With Visual and/or Other Sensory Effects
WO2013068954A2 (en) * 2011-11-08 2013-05-16 Harpur Trustee Services Limited An oral hygiene device
US8939671B2 (en) 2012-02-13 2015-01-27 Eze Products, Inc. Toothbrush with automatic paste dispensing mechanism

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* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
WO2008112589A1 (en) * 2007-03-09 2008-09-18 Mitra Ahadpour Toothbrush having a plurality of replacable heads configured to clean a plurality of oral surfaces simultaneously
US20090313778A1 (en) * 2008-06-20 2009-12-24 Colgate-Palmolive Toothbrush With Visual and/or Other Sensory Effects
US8510893B2 (en) 2008-06-20 2013-08-20 Colgate-Palmolive Company Toothbrush with visual and/or other sensory effects
US8745805B2 (en) 2008-06-20 2014-06-10 Colgate-Palmolive Company Toothbrush with visual and/or other sensory effects
US8997301B2 (en) 2008-06-20 2015-04-07 Colgate-Palmolive Company Toothbrush with visual and/or other sensory effects
WO2013068954A2 (en) * 2011-11-08 2013-05-16 Harpur Trustee Services Limited An oral hygiene device
WO2013068954A3 (en) * 2011-11-08 2013-07-04 Harpur Trustee Services Limited An oral hygiene device
US8939671B2 (en) 2012-02-13 2015-01-27 Eze Products, Inc. Toothbrush with automatic paste dispensing mechanism

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