US20110047736A1 - Oral Care Implement Having Diverging Cleaning Elements - Google Patents

Oral Care Implement Having Diverging Cleaning Elements Download PDF

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Publication number
US20110047736A1
US20110047736A1 US12547627 US54762709A US2011047736A1 US 20110047736 A1 US20110047736 A1 US 20110047736A1 US 12547627 US12547627 US 12547627 US 54762709 A US54762709 A US 54762709A US 2011047736 A1 US2011047736 A1 US 2011047736A1
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Prior art keywords
head
surface
cleaning
cleaning element
oral care
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Pending
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US12547627
Inventor
Eduardo Jimenez
Michael Rooney
Robert Moskovich
Luca Cashini
Jacob Pringiers
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Colgate-Palmolive Co
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Colgate-Palmolive Co
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    • 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
    • A46B15/00Other brushes; Brushes with additional arrangements
    • A46B15/0002Arrangements for enhancing monitoring or controlling the brushing process
    • A46B15/0016Arrangements for enhancing monitoring or controlling the brushing process with enhancing means
    • A46B15/0032Arrangements for enhancing monitoring or controlling the brushing process with enhancing means with protrusion for polishing teeth
    • 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
    • A46B9/025Position or arrangement of bristles in relation to surface of the brush body, e.g. inclined, in rows, in groups the bristles or the tufts being arranged in an angled position relative to each other
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A46BRUSHWARE
    • A46BBRUSHES
    • A46B9/00Arrangements of the bristles in the brush body
    • A46B9/06Arrangement of mixed bristles or tufts of bristles, e.g. wire, fibre, rubber
    • 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

An oral care implement implementing a cleaning element arrangement having diverging cleaning elements. In one aspect, the invention is an oral care implement comprising a handle and a head. A plurality of cleaning elements extend from the first surface of the head so as to form a ring about an axis extending from the first surface of the head. Each of the cleaning elements extend from the first surface of the head at an inclined orientation so as to radially diverge from the axis. In one embodiment, a cleaning element wall also extends from the first surface of the head and circumferentially surrounds the plurality of cleaning elements. In another aspect, the invention may be an apparatus for incorporation into an ansate oral care implement that utilizes the aforementioned arrangement of cleaning elements.

Description

    FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates generally to ansate oral care implements, and specifically to toothbrushes, either manual or powered, that have a handle and a head having cleaning elements for oral cleaning.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • A toothbrush is used to clean teeth by removing plaque and debris from the surfaces. Conventional toothbrushes are provided with a flat bristle trim that limit their ability to conform to the curvature of the teeth, to penetrate into the interproximal areas between the teeth, to sweep away the plaque and debris, and to clean along the gum line. Additionally, such toothbrushes have a limited ability to retain dentifrice for cleaning the teeth. During the brushing process, the dentifrice typically slips through the tufts of bristles and away from the contact between the bristles and the teeth. As a result, the dentifrice often is spread around the mouth, rather than being concentrated on the contact of the bristles with the teeth. Therefore, the efficiency of the cleaning process is reduced.
  • While substantial efforts have been made to modify the cleaning elements of toothbrushes to improve the aforementioned deficiencies, the industry continues to pursue arrangements of cleaning elements that will improve upon the preceding technology.
  • An example of an early attempt to improve the cleaning elements of a toothbrush is disclosed in an existing oral care implement having two or three circular brush sections which are arranged within holders that may be screwed into mating receptacles in the tooth brush handle so that they can be removed and replaced as needed. Each brush section contains stiff cleaning elements and is spaced from the other along the longitudinal axis of the handle at a distance less than the thickness of a tooth so that the brush operates on both the lingual (inside) and facial (outside) surfaces of the teeth.
  • Another example is a toothbrush with a head containing a flexible, rubber-like prophylaxis polishing cup or “prophy cup” similar to that used by dental personnel to professionally clean teeth. This prophy cup is loaded with toothpaste by the user and applied to the teeth. According to this patent, the “soft rubber-like prophy cup device follows the contours of teeth more effectively than bristles.” A ring of cleaning elements (“bristle tufts”) are placed about the periphery of the toothbrush head which co-act with the prophy cups to clean the user's teeth and gums.
  • More recently, the strategic arrangement and combination of cleaning elements in the form of elastomeric prophy cups and bristle tufts has become more common as a way of improving cleaning efficiency and maintaining the dentifrice in place during brushing. One example of the combined use and strategic arrangement of elastomeric prophy cups and bristle tufts is a toothbrush having a head portion comprising a plurality of inner loops formed by elastomeric walls. The central inner loop is surrounded by an outer loops formed of bristles. A central cleaning element, formed as a bristle tuft, is located within the elastomeric inner loops.
  • Another example of the combined use and strategic arrangement of elastomeric prophy cups and bristle tufts can be found in a toothbrush having a head portion comprising a plurality of soft elastomer prophy cups surrounded by bristle rings. In another embodiment, a toothbrush is disclosed wherein the centralized prophy cups are formed by groups of densely packed cleaning elements that are surrounded by bristle rings. The bristle rings in this embodiment are also disclosed as having one or more tufts at an inclination.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • In one aspect, the invention can be an oral care implement comprising: a handle; a head connected to the handle, the head comprising a first surface and a second surface opposite the first surface, and an axis extending from the first surface; and a plurality of cleaning elements extending from the first surface of the head and arranged in a ring about the axis, wherein each of the cleaning elements extends from the first surface of the head at an inclined orientation so as to radially diverge from the axis; a cleaning element wall extending from the first surface of the head, the cleaning element wall circumferentially surrounding the plurality of cleaning elements; and the cleaning elements extending beyond a top surface of the cleaning element wall.
  • In another aspect, the invention can be an oral care implement comprising: a handle; a head connected to the handle, the head comprising a first surface; and a plurality of cleaning elements arranged on the first surface so as to form a ring about an axis extending from the first surface of the head, wherein each of the cleaning elements extend from the first surface of the head at an inclined orientation so as to diverge from the axis.
  • In yet another embodiment, the invention can be an oral care implement comprising: a handle; a head connected to the handle, the head comprising a first surface and a second surface opposite the second surface; a hollow cleaning element cone extending from the first surface of the head, the hollow cleaning element cone circumferentially surrounding an axis extending from the first surface of the head, wherein the hollow cleaning element cone extends from the first surface of the head so as to radially diverge from the axis; and a cleaning element wall extending from the first surface of the head and circumferentially surrounding the hollow cleaning element cone.
  • In still another aspect, the invention can be an apparatus for incorporation into an ansate oral care implement comprising: a base having a first surface; a hollow cleaning element cone extending from the first surface of the head and arranged so as to circumferentially surround an axis extending from the first surface of the base, wherein the hollow cleaning element cone extends upward from the first surface of the head so as to diverge from the axis; and a cleaning element wall extending upward from the first surface of the head and circumferentially surrounding the hollow cleaning element cone.
  • In a further aspect, the invention can be an apparatus for incorporation into an ansate oral care implement comprising: a base having a first surface; a plurality of cleaning elements arranged on the first surface so as to form a ring about an axis extending from the first surface of the head, wherein each of the cleaning elements extends upward from the first surface of the head at an inclined orientation so as to diverge from the axis; and a cleaning element wall extending upward from the first surface of the head and surrounding the plurality of cleaning elements so as to form a substantially closed loop.
  • In a yet further aspect, the invention can be an apparatus for incorporation into an ansate oral care implement comprising: a base having a first surface; a plurality of cleaning elements arranged on the first surface so as to form a ring about an axis extending from the first surface of the base, wherein each of the cleaning elements extend upward from the first surface of the base at an inclined orientation so as to diverge from the axis.
  • In a still further aspect, the invention can be an oral care implement comprising: a handle; a head connected to the handle, the head comprising a first surface; a plurality of cleaning elements arranged on the first surface so as to circumferentially surround an axis extending from the first surface of the head, wherein each of the cleaning elements extends upward from the first surface of the head at an inclined orientation so as to diverge from the axis; and a cleaning element wall extending upward from the first surface of the head and circumferentially surrounding the plurality of cleaning elements.
  • In an even further aspect, the invention can be an oral care implement comprising: a handle; a head connected to the handle, the head comprising a first surface; a plurality of circumferentially spaced-apart cleaning elements extending from the first surface of the head and arranged equidistant from an axis extending from the first surface of the head, wherein the cleaning elements extend from the first surface of the head at an inclined orientation so as to radially diverge from the axis; and a cleaning element wall extending from the first surface of the head and circumferentially surrounding the plurality of cleaning elements.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • This invention is capable of use in a broad array of oral care implements and hygiene products. The drawings illustrate one use of the invention and are not to be construed as the only embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an ansate oral care implement, in the form of a manual toothbrush, according to one embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 2 is a front view of the toothbrush of FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 3 is a right-side view the toothbrush of FIG. 1, the left-side view of which is a mirror image.
  • FIG. 4 is a top view of the toothbrush of FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 5 is a close-up perspective view of the head of the toothbrush of FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 6 is a front view of the head of the toothbrush of FIG. 5.
  • FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of the head of the toothbrush of FIG. 5 along view VII-VII of FIG. 6.
  • FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of the head of the toothbrush of FIG. 5 along view VIII-VIII of FIG. 6.
  • FIG. 9A is a perspective view of an ansate oral care implement, in the form of a manual toothbrush, according to a second embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 9B is a close-up front view of the head of the toothbrush of FIG. 9A.
  • FIG. 10A is a perspective view of an ansate oral care implement, in the form of a manual toothbrush, according to a third embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 10B is a close-up front view of the head of the toothbrush of FIG. 10A.
  • FIG. 11A is a perspective view of an ansate oral care implement, in the form of a manual toothbrush, according to a fourth embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 11B is a close-up front view of the head of the toothbrush of FIG. 11A.
  • FIG. 12A is a perspective view of an ansate oral care implement, in the form of a manual toothbrush, according to a fifth embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 12B is a close-up perspective view of the head of the toothbrush of FIG. 12A.
  • FIG. 12C is a front view of the toothbrush of FIG. 12A.
  • FIG. 13 is a perspective view of a cleaning element disc according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • In the following description, the invention is discussed in terms of a manual toothbrush incorporating the novel arrangement of cleaning elements. However, in other forms, the invention could be in the form of other oral care implements including a soft-tissue cleansing implement, a powered toothbrush, or other ansate implement designed for oral care. Additionally, the invention can take the form of disc-like plates that incorporate the novel arrangement of cleaning elements for operable cooperation with a manual or powered oral care implement, such as a toothbrush or soft-tissue cleansing implement.
  • Referring first to FIGS. 1-4 concurrently, a toothbrush 100 is illustrated according to one embodiment of the present invention. The toothbrush 100 generally comprises a handle 110 and a head 120. The handle 110 provides the user with a mechanism by which he/she can readily grip and manipulate the toothbrush 100. The handle 110 is generically illustrated and may be formed of many different shapes, sizes, materials and a variety of manufacturing methods that are well-known to those skilled in the art. If desired, the handle 110 may include a suitable textured grip (not shown) made of elastomeric material or can be a multi-part construction. Stated simply, the details of the handle 110 are not limiting of the present invention and, thus, require no further discussion for purposes of the present invention.
  • The toothbrush 100 extends from a proximal end 112 to a distal end 113 along a longitudinal axis A-A (illustrated in FIG. 2 and as point A in FIG. 4). For purposes of simplicity, the longitudinal axis A-A of the toothbrush 100 is considered to be coaxial with the longitudinal axis of the head 120. However, it is of course possible for the longitudinal axis of the head 120 and the toothbrush 100 to not be coaxial with each other. The head 120 is operably connected to a distal end of the handle 110. The head 110 and handle 120 of the toothbrush are preferably formed as a single unitary structure using a molding, milling, machining or other suitable process. However, in other embodiments, the handle 110 and head 120 may be formed as separate components which are operably connected at a later stage of the manufacturing process by any suitable technique known in the art, including without limitation thermal welding, a tight-fit assembly, a coupling sleeve, adhesion, or fasteners. Whether the head 120 and handle 110 are of a unitary or multi-piece construction (including connection techniques) is not limiting of the present invention.
  • It should be noted at this time that relative terms such as distal, middle, proximal, upper, lower, top, bottom, left, right etc. are merely used to delineate relative positions of the components of the toothbrush 100 with respect to one anther and are not intended to be in any further way limiting of the present invention.
  • The head 120 generally comprises a front surface 121, a rear surface 122 and a peripheral surface 123. The front surface 121 and the rear surface 122 of the head 120 can take on a wide variety of shapes and contours, none of which are limiting of the present invention. For example, the front and rear surfaces 121, 122 can be planar, contoured or combinations thereof. Moreover, if desired, the rear surface 122 may also comprise additional structures for oral cleaning, such as a soft tissue cleanser, such as the one disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 7,143,462, issued Dec. 5, 2006 to the assignee of the present application, the entirety of which is hereby incorporated by reference. Furthermore, while the head 120 is normally widened relative to the neck 111 of the handle 110, it could in some constructions simply be a continuous extension or narrowing of the handle 110.
  • The front surface 121 comprises a collection of cleaning elements 130 extending therefrom for cleaning contact with an oral surface. While the collection of cleaning elements 130 is particularly suited for brushing teeth, the collection of cleaning elements 130 can be also be used to clean oral soft tissue, such as a tongue, gums, or cheeks instead of or in addition to teeth. As used herein, the term “cleaning element” is used in a generic sense to refer to any structure that can be used to clean or massage an oral surface through relative surface contact. Common examples of “cleaning elements” include, without limitation, filament bristles, fiber bristles, nylon bristles, spiral bristles, rubber bristles, elastomeric protrusions, flexible polymer protrusions, co-extruded filaments, flag bristles, crimped bristles, anti-bacterial bristles and combinations thereof and/or structures containing such materials or combinations.
  • Generally, the collection of cleaning elements 130 comprises a first set 131 of cleaning elements, a second set 132 of cleaning elements and a third set 138 of cleaning elements. The third set 138 of cleaning elements generally comprise a prophylaxis polishing cup 133 (a prophy cup) and a conical arrangement 134 of elongated cleaning elements. The conical arrangement 134 is located within and surrounded by the prophy cup 133.
  • Referring now to FIGS. 5 and 6 concurrently, the details of the novel arrangement and orientation of the cleaning elements on the head 120 of the toothbrush 100 will now be discussed according to one embodiment of the present invention. It should be understood that the concepts and arrangements of particular subsets of the collection of cleaning elements will be described below in relation to certain shapes, axes, and hypothetical regions or zones. It is to be understood, however, that such concepts and arrangements can be described in a wide variety of terms and manners.
  • Conceptually, the head 120 comprises a distal region 124, a middle region 125 and a proximal region 126. The first set of cleaning elements 131 a-j extend from the distal region 124 of the head 120. The second set of cleaning elements 132 a-j extend from the proximal region 126 of the head 120. The third set of cleaning elements, which consists of the prophy cup 133 a-b, a plurality of angled cleaning elements 134 a-f, and a central cleaning element 135, extend from the middle region 125 of the head.
  • In the illustrated embodiment, the cleaning elements 131 a-j, 132 a-j of the first and second sets are tufts or arcuate walls of densely packed fibrous bristles. However, one or more (or various subsets) of the cleaning elements 131 a-j, 132 a-j of the first and second sets can take on other forms, such as elastomeric walls or fingers.
  • When bristle tufts are used as the desired cleaning elements, the bristle tufts can be connected to the head 120 in any manner known in the art. For example, anchor free tufting (AFT) could be used to mount the cleaning elements. In AFT, a plate or membrane is secured to the brush head such as by ultrasonic welding. The bristles extend through the plate or membrane. The free ends of the bristles on one side of the plate or membrane perform the cleaning function. The ends of the bristles on the other side of the plate or membrane are melted together by heat to be anchored in place. Any suitable form of cleaning elements may be used in the broad practice of this invention. Alternatively, the bristles could be mounted to tuft blocks or sections by extending through suitable openings in the tuft blocks so that the base of the bristles is mounted within or below the tuft block.
  • The particular arrangement and number of the cleaning elements 131 a-j, 132 a-j of the first and second sets within the distal and proximal regions 124, 126 can vary greatly as desired, and should not be consider as a limitation of the present invention unless specifically recited in the claims. In fact, in certain embodiments of the present invention, the first and second sets of the cleaning elements 131 a-j, 132 a-j may be omitted all together or substantially altered. Nonetheless, a particularly useful and effective arrangement of the first and second sets of the cleaning elements 131 a-j, 132 a-j has been developed (discussed below in relation to FIGS. 5-6) and is to be considered as part of the invention in certain embodiments.
  • The middle region 125 of the head comprises an arrangement of cleaning elements that is specifically designed to improve the efficacy of cleaning oral surfaces, retain dentifrice on the head 120 of the toothbrush during brushing and/or massaging, and distribute the dentifrice among the collection of cleaning elements on the head 120. As mentioned above, the middle region 125 comprises a prophy cup 133 (which is formed by arcuate cleaning element walls 133 a-b, angled elongated cleaning elements 134 a-f and central elongated cleaning element 135. Preferably, the cleaning element walls 133 a-b are elastomeric walls while the elongated cleaning elements 134 a-f, 135 are tufts of densely packed fibrous bristles. In other embodiments, however, the prophy cup 133 can be formed by densely packed walls of fibrous bristles and/or the elongated cleaning elements 134 a-f can be elastomeric fingers.
  • Suitable elastomeric materials include any biocompatible resilient material suitable for uses in an oral hygiene apparatus. To provide optimum comfort as well as cleaning benefits, the elastomeric material preferably has a hardness property in the range of A5 to A40 Shore hardness, and most preferably A25 Shore hardness. One preferred elastomeric material is styrene-ethylene/butylene-styrene block copolymer (SEBS) manufactured by GLS Corporation. Nevertheless, SEBS material from other manufacturers or other materials within and outside the noted hardness range could be used.
  • Referring now to FIGS. 6-8 concurrently, the details and structural cooperation of the prophy cup 133, the cleaning elements 134 a-f, and the central cleaning element 135 will be described. The cleaning elements 134 a-f extend from the front surface 121 of the head in an angled (i.e., inclined) manner (relative to a general plane formed by the top surface 121). The cleaning elements 134 a-f are arranged in a spaced-apart manner that forms a ring that circumferentially surrounds an axis B-B. The axis B-B extends from the front surface 121 of the head 120 in a direction away from the rear surface 122 of the head 120. In the preferred embodiment, the axis B-B extends from the front surface 121 of the head 120 in a substantially normal orientation. Of course, in other embodiments, the axis B-B may be at an angle other than normal to the front surface 121. Each of the cleaning elements 134 a-f is inclined so as to radially diverge from the axis B-B at an angle Θ as it extends away from the front surface 121 of the head 120. Preferably, for each cleaning element 134 a-f, the angle Θ is in a range of 1 to 15 degrees, more preferably 3 to 5 degrees, and most preferably 4 degrees. While all of the cleaning elements 134 a-f radially diverge from the axis B-B at the same angle Θ in the illustrated embodiment, it is possible for the angles of radial divergence to vary among the cleaning elements 134 a-f. Furthermore, while six cleaning elements 134 a-f are illustrated as forming the hollow cone, any number of cleaning elements can be used in other embodiments.
  • Conceptually, the cleaning elements 134 a-f collectively form a hollow cone structure (which in the illustrated embodiment is a truncated cone). As used herein, the term “cone” is not limited to a circular cross-section and is intended to include truncated cones. The hollow cone structure formed by cleaning, elements 134 a-f forms a funnel-like internal cavity 136 for receiving a dentifrice. The cleaning elements 134 a-f are equidistantly circumferentially spaced from one another so that a space exists between adjacent cleaning elements 134 a-f. While in the illustrated embodiments, the hollow cone is formed by spaced apart cleaning elements, in alternative embodiments the hollow cone can be formed by an angled wall (or angled wall segments) formed by an elastomer or densely packed bristles.
  • The hollow cone formed by the cleaning elements 134 a-f is concentrically arranged about the axis B-B and is congruent with the conical axis. The elongated central cleaning element 135 extends from the front surface 121 of the head 120 along the axis B-B within the funnel-like cavity 136. The central cleaning element 135 is preferably a tuft of densely packed fibrous bristles but can also be an elastomer finger or other material or structure. Of course, the central cleaning element 135 may even be omitted in certain embodiments of the invention.
  • The hollow cone formed by the cleaning elements 134 a-f is circumferentially surrounded by a cleaning element wall (formed by arcuate sections of cleaning element walls 133 a-b). Collectively, the cleaning element walls 133 a-b form the prophy cup as a substantially closed loop that concentrically surrounds the hollow cone formed by the elongated cleaning elements 134 a-f. While the prophy cup is formed by two arcuate sections of cleaning element walls 133 a-b in the illustrated embodiment, the prophy cup (and the substantially closed-loop) can be formed by a single wall section or by more than two wall sections in other embodiments.
  • As a result of being circumferentially surrounded by the prophy cup (which is formed by the arcuate cleaning element walls 133 a-b), an annular channel 137 exists between the hollow cone (formed by the cleaning elements 134 a-f) and the cleaning element wall (formed by arcuate cleaning element walls 133 a-b). The arcuate cleaning element walls 133 a-b are circumferentially spaced from one another so that gaps 139 exist along the longitudinal axis A-A of the head 120.
  • Referring solely now to FIG. 7, each of the cleaning elements 134 a-f extends at an incline from the first surface 121 of the head 120 and terminate in cleaning ends 144 a-f respectively. The prophy cup (which consists of arcuate cleaning element walls 133 a-b) extends normally from the first surface 121 of the head 120 and terminates in top surfaces 143 a-b. In other embodiments, the prophy cup (which consists of arcuate cleaning element walls 133 a-b) may extend from the first surface 121 of the head 120 at an inclined orientation, either inclined toward or away from the axis B-B.
  • The cleaning elements 134 a-f (and thus the hollow cone) has a height H1 while the prophy cup (and, thus, the arcuate cleaning element walls 133 a-b) has a height H2 (measured relative to the front surface 121 of the head 120). The height H1 is preferably greater than the height H2. In one embodiment, the height H1 is preferably in the range of 7 to 13 millimeters, most preferably 10 millimeters, while the height H2 is preferably in the range of 5 to 11 millimeters, most preferably 6.5 millimeters. Thought of another way, cleaning element walls 133 a-b circumferentially surround only a base portion of the cleaning elements 134 a-f while a top portion of the cleaning elements 134 a-f extends beyond the top surfaces 143 a-b of the cleaning element walls 133 a-b.
  • In a preferred construction, the cleaning elements 134 a-f are preferably located within a range of 3 to 6 millimeters from the axis B-B, and most preferably 4 millimeters (measured from the base of the cleaning elements 134 a-1). The walls 133 a-b of the prophy cup are preferably located within a range of 6 to 12 millimeters from the axis B-B, and most preferably about 8 millimeters. As a result of the inclined/diverging orientation of the cleaning elements 134 a-f and their close proximity to the walls 133 a-b of the prophy cup, the inner top top edge of the walls 133 a-b of the prophy cup abut against one or more of the cleaning elements 134 a-f. In one preferred embodiment, the width of the prophy cup 133 extends the substantial entirety of the width of the head 120.
  • Referring now to FIGS. 5-8 concurrently, the mechanism of action of the novel cleaning element arrangement of the toothbrush 100 will be described. The following discussion is set forth as an explanation of the improved operation of the present invention. The following discussion is not to be construed as limiting the scope of the invention, unless specifically recited in the claims.
  • A dentifrice is initially applied to the head 120 of the toothbrush 100 which fills the cavity 136 formed by the hollow cleaning element cone (which is formed by the elongated cleaning elements 134 a-f). The funnel shape of the cavity 136 helps capture, hold and direct the dentifrice into the toothbrush during dentifrice application and subsequent brushing. The central elongated cleaning element 135 may further assist with dentifrice maintenance and dispersion. Once the dentifrice fills the cavity 136, it can flow through the spaces between adjacent elongated cleaning elements 134 a-f and into the annular channel 137 formed between the hollow cleaning element cone (which is formed by the elongated cleaning elements 134 a-f) and the prophy cup (consisting of arcuate walls 133 a-b). The inclined orientation of the elongated cleaning elements 134 a-f results in the annular channel 137 having a substantially closed roof (at least in certain sections), thereby further helping to keep the dentifrice within the toothbrush 100. The dentifrice then flows through the gaps 139 formed between the arcuate sections 133 a-b. Because the gaps 139 are located only along the longitudinal axis A-A of the head, the dentifrice escaping from the prophy cup via the gaps 139 is forced into the first and second sets 131 a-j, 132 a-j where it is further distributed during the brushing and/or massaging of oral surfaces.
  • Finally, by surrounding the hollow cleaning element cone (which is formed by the elongated cleaning elements 134 a-f) with a shorter prophy cup (formed by arcuate walls 133 a-b), the prophy cup can provide additional support and rigidity to the elongated cleaning elements 134 a-f during brushing. More specifically, when the elongated cleaning elements 134 a-f are not under the standard forces imparted during brushing (i.e., in a non-use state), the elongated cleaning elements 134 a-f are either slightly spaced from the arcuate walls 133 a-b or abutted against the top inner edges of the arcuate walls 133 a-b in a non-forced state. However, when the elongated cleaning elements 134 a-f are subjected to standard forces imparted during brushing, the elongated cleaning elements 134 a-f flex outwardly from the axis B-B and come into contact with the arcuate walls 133 a-b, which provide additional support for the elongated cleaning elements 134 a-f so tha more effective cleaning can be achieved. In some embodiments, the plurality of cleaning elements 134 a-f are also taller than any of the cleaning elements of the first and second sets that are immediately adjacent the prophy cup (not illustrated).
  • Additionally, when the arcuate walls 133 a-b are constructed of an elastomeric material, additional benefits are achieved. Specifically, the arcuate shaped elastomeric elements 133 a-b help spread toothpaste onto the tubules of the teeth. This helps reduce the sensitivity of the tooth because the tubules are thereby reduced in size. This is also a benefit with whitening because the toothpaste is spread onto the tubules. Moreover, elastomeric walls are better than bristles at this wiping toothpaste into the tubules of the teeth.
  • Referring back to FIGS. 5-6 and 8 concurrently, a preferred arrangement of the cleaning elements 131 a-j, 132 a-j of the first and second sets 131, 132 within the distal and proximal regions 124, 126 of the head 120 will be described according to one embodiment of the present invention. All of the cleaning elements 131 a-j, 132 a-j extend from the front surface 121 of the head in a substantially normal orientation.
  • The first set 131 comprises a first grouping consisting of cleaning element walls 131 c-e and elongated cleaning elements 131 a-b, 131 f-g. This first grouping of cleaning elements 131 a-131 g is disposed in a par-elliptical arrangement along the distal periphery of the head 120. The elongated cleaning elements 131 a-b, 131 f-g are preferably cylindrical bristle tufts whose free ends taper to a point. The cleaning element walls 131 c-e are preferably walls of densely packed bristles. The height of the cleaning element walls 131 c-e increase toward the distal end of the head 120, thereby forming a tapered edge at the distal edge of the cleaning element field.
  • Similarly, the second set 132 comprises a first grouping consisting of cleaning element walls 132 c-e and elongated cleaning elements 132 a-b, 132 f-g. This first grouping of cleaning elements 132 a-132 g is disposed in a par-elliptical arrangement along the distal periphery of the head 120. The elongated cleaning elements 132 a-b, 132 f-g are preferably cylindrical bristle tufts whose free ends taper to a point. The cleaning element walls 132 c-e are preferably walls of densely packed bristles. The height of the cleaning element walls 132 c-e increase toward the distal end of the head 120, thereby forming a tapered edge at the distal edge of the cleaning element field.
  • The first set 131 also comprises a second grouping, consisting of arcuate cleaning element walls 131 h, 131 j and central cleaning element 131 i. The arcuate cleaning element walls 131 h, 131 j are arranged so as to form a loop about a center point from which the central cleaning element 131 i extends. The arcuate cleaning element walls 131 h, 131 j are preferably elastomeric walls but can be densely packed bristles. This second grouping of cleaning element 131 h-j is located within the par-elliptical shape formed by the first grouping of cleaning elements 131 a-g. The central cleaning element 131 i extends a height that is greater than the height of the arcuate cleaning element walls 131 h, 131 j. The height of the central cleaning element 131 j is less than the height of the central cleaning element 135 of the third set 138. However, the height of the arcuate cleaning element walls 131 h, 131 j is grater than the height of the arcuate wall elements 133 a-b of the third set 38.
  • Similarly, the second set 132 also comprises a second grouping, consisting of arcuate cleaning element walls 132 h, 132 j and central cleaning element 132 i. The arcuate cleaning element walls 132 h, 132 j are arranged so as to form a loop about a center point from which the central cleaning element 132 i extends. The arcuate cleaning element walls 132 h, 132 j are preferably elastomeric walls but can be densely packed bristles. This second grouping of cleaning element 132 h-j is located within the par-elliptical shape formed by the first grouping of cleaning elements 132 a-g. The central cleaning element 132 i extends a height that is greater than the height of the arcuate cleaning element walls 132 h, 132 j. The height of the central cleaning element 132 j is less than the height of the central cleaning element 135 of the third set 138. However, the height of the arcuate cleaning element walls 132 h, 132 j is grater than the height of the arcuate wall elements 133 a-b of the third set 38.
  • Both of the loops formed by the arcuate cleaning element walls 132 h, 132 j and 131 h, 131 j respectively are located so that their center points are located along the longitudinal axis A-A of the head 120.
  • Referring now to FIGS. 9A-9B concurrently, a manual toothbrush 200 according to a second embodiment of the present invention is illustrated. The toothbrush 200 is identical to the toothbrush 100 described above with respect to FIGS. 1-8 except that the central cleaning element 135 is omitted. In order to avoid redundancy, a further detailed description of the toothbrush 200 and its functioning is omitted with the understanding that the corresponding elements of toothbrush 200 are numbered the same as the toothbrush 100 except that they are in the “200 series.” The above discussion with respect to toothbrush 100 is thus applicable to the toothbrush 200.
  • Referring now to FIGS. 10A-10B concurrently, a manual toothbrush 300 according to a third embodiment of the present invention is illustrated. The toothbrush 300 is identical to the toothbrush 100 described above with respect to FIGS. 1-8 except that the hollow cone structure 334 is formed by eight elongated cleaning elements rather than six. In order to avoid redundancy, a further detailed description of the toothbrush 300 and its functioning is omitted with the understanding that the corresponding elements of toothbrush 300 are numbered the same as the toothbrush 100 except that they are in the “300 series.” The above discussion with respect to toothbrush 100 is thus applicable to the toothbrush 300.
  • Referring now to FIGS. 11A-11B concurrently, a manual toothbrush 400 according to a fourth embodiment of the present invention is illustrated. The toothbrush 400 is identical to the toothbrush 100 described above with respect to FIGS. 1-8 except that the hollow cone structure 434 is formed by ten elongated cleaning elements rather than six. In order to avoid redundancy, a further detailed description of the toothbrush 400 and its functioning is omitted with the understanding that the corresponding elements of toothbrush 400 are numbered the same as the toothbrush 100 except that they are in the “400 series.” The above discussion with respect to toothbrush 100 is thus applicable to the toothbrush 400.
  • Referring now to FIGS. 12A-12C concurrently, a manual toothbrush 500 according to a fifth embodiment of the present invention is illustrated. The toothbrush 500 is identical to the toothbrush 100 described above with respect to FIGS. 1-8 except that the central cleaning elements 135 is omitted and the elongated cleaning elements 534 a-f that form the hollow cone structure 534 converge upon the axis B-B, thereby forming a full cone rather than a truncated cone. In order to avoid redundancy, a further detailed description of the toothbrush 500 and its functioning is omitted with the understanding that the corresponding elements of toothbrush 500 are numbered the same as the toothbrush 100 except that they are in the “500 series.” The above discussion with respect to toothbrush 100 is thus applicable to the toothbrush 400.
  • Referring now to FIG. 13, a cleaning element disc 600 for incorporation into an ansate oral care implement is illustrated according to one embodiment of the present invention. The cleaning element disc 600 is essentially a plate-like disc that incorporates the third set 138 of cleaning elements described above with respect to FIGS. 1-8. The apparatus 600 generally comprises a circular base plate 601 and the third set 138 of cleaning elements described above with respect to FIGS. 1-8. In order to avoid redundancy, a further detailed description of the third set 138 of cleaning elements is omitted. However, it is to be understood that the cleaning element disc 600 can utilize any of the variations of the cleaning element arrangement disclosed above with respect to FIGS. 9A-12C.
  • The cleaning element disc 600 is particularly suited for use with powered toothbrushes wherein the cleaning element disc 600 will lock into place on the powered toothbrush and be operably coupled to a rotary element. The cleaning element disc 600, however, can also be used in manual toothbrushes wherein the cleaning element disc 600 can snap lock/unlock into and out of the head of the toothbrush for replacement. Such techniques are known in the art.
  • Finally, it should be noted that in certain embodiments of the invention, a plurality of the third sets 138 of cleaning elements can be arranged on the head 120 of the toothbrush 100. In such an embodiment, the third sets 138 of cleaning elements are preferably aligned along the longitudinal axis A-A of the head 120. Moreover, in such an embodiment, any of the embodiments of the third sets can be used.
  • While a number of embodiments of the current invention have been described and illustrated in detail, various alternatives and modifications will become readily apparent to those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. As various changes could be made in the above methods, compositions and structures without departing from the scope of the invention, it is intended that all matter contained in this application, including all mechanisms and/or modes of interaction described above, shall be interpreted as illustrative only and not limiting in any way the scope of the appended claims.

Claims (28)

    What is claimed is:
  1. 1. An oral care implement comprising:
    a handle;
    a head connected to the handle, the head comprising a first surface and a second surface opposite the first surface, and an axis extending from the first surface; and
    a plurality of cleaning elements extending from the first surface of the head and arranged in a ring about the axis, wherein each of the cleaning elements extends from the first surface of the head at an inclined orientation so as to radially diverge from the axis;
    a cleaning element wall extending from the first surface of the head, the cleaning element wall circumferentially surrounding the plurality of cleaning elements; and
    the cleaning elements extending beyond a top surface of the cleaning element wall.
  2. 2. The oral care implement of claim 1 wherein the plurality of cleaning elements are spaced-apart bristle tufts and the cleaning element wall is an elastomeric wall.
  3. 3. The oral care implement of claim 1 wherein the cleaning elements are spaced from a top inner edge of the cleaning element wall during periods of non-use and wherein the cleaning elements are forced into contact with the top inner edge of the cleaning element wall during periods of use.
  4. 4. The oral care implement of claim 1 wherein the axis is substantially normal to the first surface of the head.
  5. 5. The oral care implement of claim 1 wherein one or more of the cleaning elements abut a top inner edge of the cleaning element wall during periods of non-use.
  6. 6. The oral care implement of claim 1 wherein the cleaning element wall comprises one or more gaps located along a longitudinal axis of the head, the cleaning element wall being free of gaps that are not located along the longitudinal axis of the head.
  7. 7. The oral care implement of claim 1 wherein the cleaning element wall comprises a plurality of arcuate sections that collectively define a loop, each arcuate section separated from an adjacent arcuate section by a gap.
  8. 8. The oral care implement of claim 7 wherein the cleaning element wall comprises only two arcuate sections, and wherein the arcuate sections are arranged so that the gaps are located along a longitudinal axis of the head.
  9. 9. The oral care implement of claim 1 wherein the plurality of cleaning elements form a funnel shaped cavity and are circumferentially spaced apart from one another along the ring.
  10. 10. The oral care implement of claim 9 further comprising a central cleaning element extending from the first surface of the head along the axis.
  11. 11. The oral care implement of claim 1 wherein the plurality of cleaning elements diverge from the axis at an angle in a range of 3 to 5 degrees.
  12. 12. The oral care implement of claim 1 wherein the axis extends from the first surface of the head along a longitudinal axis of the head; and wherein the head comprises a distal region, a middle region and a proximal region; and wherein the axis is located within the middle region of the head.
  13. 13. The oral care implement of claim 1 further comprising:
    the head comprises a distal region, a middle region and a proximal region;
    the distal region comprising a first set of cleaning elements extending from the first surface of the head;
    the proximal region comprising a second set of cleaning elements extending from the first surface of the head;
    the cleaning element wall located within the middle region;
    wherein the cleaning element wall forms a loop comprising one or more gaps located along a longitudinal axis of the head, wherein the cleaning element wall is free of gaps that are not located along the longitudinal axis of the head; and
    wherein the loop formed by the cleaning element wall extends a substantial entirety of a width of the head.
  14. 14. The oral care implement of claim 1 wherein the cleaning element wall extends from the first surface in a substantially normal direction to the first surface.
  15. 15. The oral care implement of claim 1 wherein the cleaning element wall forms a loop, and wherein the loop and the ring are concentrically arranged about the axis.
  16. 16. The oral care implement of claim 1 further comprising:
    the cleaning elements being at least six bristle tufts and the cleaning element wall being an elastomeric wall;
    the axis extending substantially normal to the first surface of the head;
    the cleaning element wall forming a loop, and the loop and the ring concentrically arranged about the axis;
    the bristle tufts forming a funnel shaped cavity;
    a central cleaning element extending from the first surface of the head along the axis;
    the head comprising a distal region, a middle region and a proximal region, the distal region comprising a first set of cleaning elements extending from the first surface of the head, the proximal region comprising a second set of cleaning elements extending from the first surface of the head; and the elastomeric wall located within the middle region;
    the elastomeric wall comprising one or more gaps located along a longitudinal axis of the head, wherein the elastomeric wall is free of gaps along lateral sides of the head; and
    wherein the plurality of bristle tufts are taller than adjacent cleaning elements of the first and second sets.
  17. 17. An oral care implement comprising:
    a handle;
    a head connected to the handle, the head comprising a first surface and second surface opposite the first surface; and
    a plurality of cleaning elements extending from the first surface of the head and forming a ring about an axis, wherein each of the cleaning elements extend from the first surface of the head at an inclined orientation so as to radially diverge from the axis.
  18. 18. The oral care implement of claim 17 further comprising a cleaning element wall extending from the first surface of the head and surrounding the plurality of cleaning elements so as to form a loop that surrounds the ring, the cleaning element wall being shorter than the plurality of cleaning elements.
  19. 19. The oral care implement of claim 17 wherein the plurality of cleaning elements are bristle tufts and the cleaning element wall is constructed of an elastomer.
  20. 20. The oral care implement of claim 17 wherein the cleaning elements are spaced from a top inner edge of the cleaning element wall during periods of non-use and wherein the cleaning elements are forced into contact with the top inner edge of the cleaning element wall during periods of use.
  21. 21. The oral care implement of claim 17 wherein the cleaning element wall comprises a plurality of arcuate sections that collectively define the substantially closed loop, each arcuate section separated from an adjacent arcuate section by a gap; and wherein the cleaning element wall comprises only two arcuate sections, and wherein the arcuate sections are arranged so that the gaps are located along a longitudinal axis of the head.
  22. 22. An oral care implement comprising:
    a handle;
    a head connected to the handle, the head comprising a first surface and a second surface opposite the second surface;
    a hollow cleaning element cone extending from the first surface of the head, the hollow cleaning element cone circumferentially surrounding an axis extending from the first surface of the head, wherein the hollow cleaning element cone extends from the first surface of the head so as to radially diverge from the axis; and
    a cleaning element wall extending from the first surface of the head and circumferentially surrounding the hollow cleaning element cone.
  23. 23. The oral care implement of claim 22 further comprising:
    the hollow cleaning element cone terminating in a cleaning end and the cleaning element wall terminating in a top surface
    the cleaning end of the hollow cleaning element cone being at a first height above the first surface of the head;
    the top surface of the cleaning element wall being at a second height above the first surface of the head; and
    wherein the first height is greater than the second height
  24. 24. The oral care implement of claim 22 wherein the hollow cleaning element cone diverges from the axis at an angle in a range of 3 to 5 degrees.
  25. 25. The oral care implement of claim 22 wherein the hollow cleaning element cone is formed by a plurality of circumferentially spaced apart cleaning elements, wherein each of the cleaning, elements of the hollow cleaning element cone extend from the first surface of the head so as to radially diverge from the axis; and wherein the plurality of circumferentially spaced apart cleaning elements are bristle tufts.
  26. 26. The oral care implement of claim 22 wherein the cleaning element wall is constructed of an elastomer; and wherein the hollow cleaning element cone is formed by a plurality of circumferentially spaced apart bristle tufts.
  27. 27. The oral care implement of claim 22 further comprising:
    wherein the cleaning element wall forms a loop comprising one or more gaps located along a longitudinal axis of the head, wherein the cleaning element wall is free of gaps that are not located along the longitudinal axis of the head;
    wherein the head comprises a distal region, a middle region and a proximal region; and wherein the axis is located within the middle region of the head;
    a first set of cleaning elements extending from the first surface of the head in the distal region and a second set of cleaning elements extending from the first surface of the head in the proximate region; and
    wherein the loop extends a substantial entirety of a width of the head and is located entirely within the middle region.
  28. 28. An oral care implement comprising:
    a handle;
    a head connected to the handle, the head comprising a first surface;
    a plurality of circumferentially spaced-apart cleaning elements extending from the first surface of the head and arranged equidistant from an axis extending from the first surface of the head, wherein the cleaning elements extend from the first surface of the head at an inclined orientation so as to radially diverge from the axis; and
    a cleaning element wall extending from the first surface of the head and circumferentially surrounding the plurality of cleaning elements.
US12547627 2009-08-26 2009-08-26 Oral Care Implement Having Diverging Cleaning Elements Pending US20110047736A1 (en)

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US12547627 US20110047736A1 (en) 2009-08-26 2009-08-26 Oral Care Implement Having Diverging Cleaning Elements
EP20100749573 EP2470045B1 (en) 2009-08-26 2010-08-26 Oral care implement having diverging cleaning elements
PCT/US2010/046806 WO2011028607A3 (en) 2009-08-26 2010-08-26 Oral care implement having diverging cleaning elements
CA 2769422 CA2769422C (en) 2009-08-26 2010-08-26 Oral care implement having diverging cleaning elements
CN 201080037969 CN102740730B (en) 2009-08-26 2010-08-26 Oral care implement having diverging cleaning elements
EP20120193452 EP2574254B1 (en) 2009-08-26 2010-08-26 Oral care implement having diverging cleaning elements
RU2012111317A RU2525184C2 (en) 2009-08-26 2010-08-26 Appliance for oral care having deflecting cleaning elements
EP20150162045 EP2912967A1 (en) 2009-08-26 2010-08-26 Oral care implement having diverging cleaning elements
EP20150162039 EP2912966B1 (en) 2009-08-26 2010-08-26 Oral care implement having diverging cleaning elements
KR20127007788A KR101372187B1 (en) 2009-08-26 2010-08-26 Oral care implement having diverging cleaning elements
ES10749573T ES2434041T3 (en) 2009-08-26 2010-08-26 Oral care implement having cleaning elements divergent
US15473860 US20170202348A1 (en) 2009-08-26 2017-03-30 Oral Care Implement Having Diverging Cleaning Elements

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US15473860 Pending US20170202348A1 (en) 2009-08-26 2017-03-30 Oral Care Implement Having Diverging Cleaning Elements

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EP (4) EP2470045B1 (en)
KR (1) KR101372187B1 (en)
CN (1) CN102740730B (en)
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ES (1) ES2434041T3 (en)
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