US20130067670A1 - FlexibleToothbrush - Google Patents

FlexibleToothbrush Download PDF

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Publication number
US20130067670A1
US20130067670A1 US13548139 US201213548139A US2013067670A1 US 20130067670 A1 US20130067670 A1 US 20130067670A1 US 13548139 US13548139 US 13548139 US 201213548139 A US201213548139 A US 201213548139A US 2013067670 A1 US2013067670 A1 US 2013067670A1
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Prior art keywords
toothbrush
bristles
lateral walls
base member
space
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Abandoned
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US13548139
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Michael Liangco
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Michael Liangco
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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
    • A46B9/045Arranged like in or for toothbrushes specially adapted for cleaning a plurality of tooth surfaces simultaneously
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A46BRUSHWARE
    • A46BBRUSHES
    • A46B5/00Brush bodies; Handles integral with brushware
    • A46B5/002Brush bodies; Handles integral with brushware having articulations, joints or flexible portions
    • A46B5/0025Brushes with elastically deformable heads that change shape during use
    • A46B5/0029Head made of soft plastics, rubber or rubber inserts in plastics matrix
    • 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
    • A46B15/00Other brushes; Brushes with additional arrangements
    • A46B15/0055Brushes combined with other articles normally separate from the brushing process, e.g. combs, razors, mirrors
    • A46B15/0081Brushes with a scraper, e.g. tongue scraper
    • 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
    • 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
    • A46B9/028Bristle profile, the end of the bristle defining a surface other than a single plane or deviating from a simple geometric form, e.g. cylinder, sphere or cone

Abstract

A toothbrush comprises a handle portion and a head portion. The head portion has a base member and first and second lateral walls extending upwardly therefrom to define a space. The base member and first and second lateral walls have bristles arranged thereon extending into the space. At least one, and preferably both, of the first and second lateral walls are pivotable relative to the base member to permit the side walls to move into and out of the space in response to forces.

Description

    CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application is a continuation-in-part application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/435,682 filed Mar. 30, 2012 which is a continuation-in-part application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/587,036 filed Oct. 1, 2009, and a continuation-in-part application of PCT International Application No. PCT/US2010/02612 filed Sep. 24, 2010, both of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.
  • FIELD AND BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • This invention relates to a flexible toothbrush. More particularly, the invention is for a flexible toothbrush with differently oriented bristles for cleaning the sides and the undersurface of the teeth in one motion.
  • The use of toothbrushes and the routine of brushing teeth on a daily basis is a well established practice for the vast majority of people. A common toothbrush will typically have a handle which is grasped and held by the user, as well as a head portion. The head portion comprises a base which may be extension of the handle, and bristles mounted in the base and extending upwardly therefrom. The bristles are most often oriented in one plane, although they may have different lengths and mounting configurations in the base in an effort to optimize the efficiency of the toothbrush.
  • As is well known, the user moves the bristles over the teeth for the purpose of dislodging food particles or other debris in the tooth crevices and spaces between the teeth, and also for preventing the build up of plaque or at least the rate at which plaque builds up on the teeth.
  • Different bristle configurations and toothbrush shapes have been developed and marketed over the years with the express objective of improving the effectiveness of the toothbrush, in order to maximize the consequence of the sweeping motion of the toothbrush to dislodge debris and reduce plaque buildup. The literature is replete with many designs and variations of toothbrushes. Different toothbrushes may work better with children or with adults, or with people with special needs and requirements in order to protect the teeth.
  • The teeth themselves vary from one person to another very substantially. Some people may have straight teeth while others may have teeth which are moderately or severely misaligned relative to each other. Further, each tooth has different types of surface. For example, the thickness of the enamel covering the teeth may vary depending on the location on the tooth. In this regard, it should be noted that the thickness of the enamel layer on the occlusal area, or the chewing surface, will be greater than the thickness of the enamel later on the sides of the teeth.
  • The present invention utilizes all or many of these factors in the design and construction of the toothbrush of the invention, which thus addresses physical aspects of the teeth in order to make the brushing process more productive in cleaning and caring for the teeth.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • According to one aspect of the invention, there is provide a toothbrush comprising: a handle portion; a head portion having a base member and first and second lateral walls extending upwardly therefrom to define a space, the base member and first and second lateral walls having bristles arranged thereon extending into the space, at least one of the first and second lateral walls being pivotable relative to the base member to permit the side walls to move into and out of the space in response to forces.
  • In one form, at least one of the first and second lateral walls are connected to the base member such that the first and/or second lateral walls pivot into and out of the space in response to the forces. A point of connection between the base member and the first and second lateral walls facilitate the pivoting.
  • Preferably, the point of connection comprises a reduced size connection constituting a point of weakness to allow the pivoting of the first and/or second lateral walls relative to the base member. Both the first and the second lateral walls may be pivotable relative to the base member.
  • Preferably, at least one of the first and second lateral walls are comprised of two or more wall portions, each of the wall portions being separately connected to the base member so that each of the wall portions is pivotable relative to the base member independently of other wall portions. In one embodiment, both the first and second lateral walls are comprised of two or more wall portions. The first or second lateral walls may be comprised of three wall portions.
  • Preferably, the base member has mounted thereon traditional nylon bristles selectively arranged thereon to clean an occlusal surface of a tooth being brushed. Further, each of the lateral walls may have a combination of traditional nylon bristles and rubber bristles interspersedly mounted thereon and selectively arranged thereon to clean and polish a smooth side surface of a tooth being brushed. In one embodiment, the traditional and rubber bristles are mounted so as to extend into the space at an angle which is approximately 45 degrees to the first and second lateral walls respectively. The first and second lateral walls may have a set of top bristles and a set of lower bristles, the top bristles being slightly longer than the lower bristles, the top bristles being configured to clean the sulcus or below the gum area.
  • Preferably, the traditional bristles mounted on the base member have a contoured upper surface designed to reach and clean fissures and crevices in the tooth.
  • In a preferred embodiment, the toothbrush further comprises at least one opening formed between the first and second lateral walls and the base member to facilitate flow of liquid and debris away from the toothbrush. A tongue cleaner may also be formed on the head of the toothbrush.
  • According to another aspect of the invention, there is provided a toothbrush comprising: a handle portion; a head portion having a base member and first and second lateral walls extending upwardly therefrom to define a space, the base member and first and second lateral walls having bristles arranged thereon extending into the space, the bristles of the base member comprising nylon traditional bristles, and the bristles of the first and second lateral walls comprising a combination of traditional nylon bristles and rubber bristles.
  • Preferably, the traditional and rubber bristles on the first and second lateral walls are mounted so as to extend into the space at an angle which is approximately 45 degrees to the first and second lateral walls respectively. The bristles on the first and second lateral walls may comprise a set of top bristles and a set of lower bristles, the top bristles being slightly longer than the lower bristles, the top bristles being configured to clean the sulcus or below the gum area. At least one, or both, of the first and second lateral walls is pivotable relative to the base member to permit the side walls to move into and out of the space in response to forces.
  • According to yet a further aspect of the invention, there is provided a flexible toothbrush comprising a handle and a head, the head having a base member, a first lateral wall extending upwardly therefrom and a second lateral wall extending upwardly therefrom such that the first and second lateral walls are spaced from each other, the base member and first and second lateral walls defining a space and being generally U-shaped in cross section.
  • The head comprises a set of base bristles expending into the space, while the first and second lateral walls have first and second each have a set of first and second lateral bristles respectively, also extending into the space. The set of base bristles and the sets of first and second lateral bristles together leave an open unbristled area in the space which in use accommodates a tooth or teeth which are being brushed by the toothbrush.
  • In a preferred form of the invention, the first and second lateral walls are attached to the base member in a manner that allows them some degree of flexibility. In this regard, the flexible lateral walls are able to flex by being resilient and capable of moving into and out of the space. A significant advantage of such a construction is that the configuration of the teeth of the user slightly push out the lateral walls when required so that a set of teeth that are not perfectly aligned with respect to each other will still be able to be thoroughly brushed, since the head of the toothbrush and particularly and the lateral walls will move and deform in response to the tooth configuration to provide every tooth with the best possible exposure to the toothbrush and hence the optimal cleaning.
  • In one embodiment, the flexibility of the lateral walls is achieved by providing a point of connection between the lateral walls and the base member which is thinner or weakened and thus allows the lateral walls to shift slightly at the point of connection in response to the alignment or misalignment of the teeth.
  • Preferably, different types of bristles may be used in the head of the toothbrush. The head may have the traditional nylon or other material bristles as well as rubber bristles. There may be a combination of traditional and rubber bristles on the lateral arms, while the base member may have only the traditional bristles.
  • The combination of the traditional and the rubber bristles may have enhanced effects in cleaning both the buccal and lingual surfaces of the teeth. These may comprise the smooth surfaces. On these surfaces and areas, the enamel may be thinner to that on the occlusal surfaces which are used for chewing and are therefore thicker and able to withstand more abrasion and contact with other substances. The traditional bristles will have a better effect in unclogging plaque and other debris, while the rubber bristle will polish the enamel as it moves over the tooth surface. This design will therefore lessen the opportunity for abrasion on the more sensitive and thinner parts of the tooth where there is less enamel if rubber is used partly or fully or in addition to the regular traditional bristles alone.
  • This double treatment of the teeth using both traditional bristles and rubber bristles will emulate more closely the type of procedure encountered at a dentist since the teeth are both cleaned and polished every time the teeth are brushed using the toothbrush in accordance with the present invention.
  • Preferably, there may be openings or holes constructed between the lateral walls and the base member of the head of the toothbrush. This enhances the hygienic properties of the toothbrush by providing outlets for plaque and debris removed by the toothbrush during the brushing and ensuring that at least some of this detritus does not remain in or on the toothbrush. The flow or removal of the debris from the tooth into the mouth is thus optimized so that it does not get captured by the toothbrush and provide a platform which can result in bacterial colonization.
  • The length and orientation of the bristles may vary as well. For those bristles on the base member of the head of the toothbrush, some may be longer and some shorter to provide a bristle surface designed to reach debris in crevices and creases and for unclogging plaque. As noted above, the bristles on the base member are entirely traditional type bristles in accordance with one aspect of the invention, although other types of bristles could be used. This is because occlusal enamel is much thicker than that on the smooth side surfaces of the teeth.
  • On the base member, the traditional bristles may be shaped like a crown and pointed in the middle to properly penetrate and cleanse the fissural areas. Fissures and pits on the tooth are deep openings or crevices that are highly adapted to entrapping plaque and debris. Plaque which collects in these areas is very difficult to dislodge and remove, and the traditional bristles on the base member are most suitable since the base member will typically brush over the chewing or occlusal surfaces of the tooth. Such bristles will best debride the occlusal areas and help to reduce the chances for the developments of caries or dental decay.
  • The bristles on the lateral walls are preferably a combination of traditional bristles and rubber bristles selectively arranged on the lateral wall for maximum effect. This combination will be responsible for the cleaning of the buccal and lingual surfaces of the tooth, which are the smooth surfaces with thinner enamel when compared to the occlusal surface. In the combination of bristles, the traditional bristles will unclog plaque and remove debris, as generally described above, while the rubber bristle will polish the enamel simultaneously. This combination will, therefore, decrease the chances of abrasion when compared to the use of all traditional bristles, and have the effect of both cleaning and polishing the teeth at the same time, whenever the teeth are brushed with a toothbrush in accordance with the invention.
  • In one preferred embodiment of the invention, the bristles, both traditional type and rubber bristles, may oriented at an angle, preferably extending at an upward angle into the space. Furthermore, bristles at the top of the lateral wall (or remote from the base member) may be a little longer than the remaining bristles, by about a millimeter or so in one embodiment of the invention. These longer bristles are configured to reach the gums of the user more effectively, and the benefits of massaging the gums, or penetrating and cleaning the sulcus, are well known and acknowledged as a prudent from of oral hygiene and care.
  • Each tooth may have a sulcus or pocket and free or unattached gingiva that wraps around the tooth at the point where the tooth emerges from the gum. In a healthy adult, the pocket depth ranges from 1 to about 2 or more millimeters. For this reason, the bristles in the lateral walls of the toothbrush of the invention are about 1 or so millimeters longer than the others, so that they can better penetrate, clean and massage the sulcus without damaging the gingiva.
  • In one embodiment, the toothbrush head of the invention has the base member and one lateral wall on each side thereof. However, in other embodiments of the invention, there may be more than one lateral wall on each side of the base member, or, alternatively, each lateral wall may be comprised of two or more, preferably three, portions. Each portion may move independently in the flexible manner disclosed herein so as to best optimize the cleaning effect of the toothbrush of the invention in cleaning and polishing teeth which may not be perfectly aligned but which may be crooked in one or more locations.
  • The toothbrush of the invention may also include a tongue scraper, which may be formed on the outer surface of the head, for scraping and cleaning the tongue, thus rendering the toothbrush into an instrument which has multiple purposes and comprises an all in one oral cleaning tool.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • In the drawings:
  • FIG. 1 is a top schematic view of a toothbrush in accordance with one embodiment of the invention;
  • FIG. 2 is an end view of a toothbrush in accordance with one aspect of the invention;
  • FIGS. 3 and 4 show details of the toothbrush shown in FIG. 2 of the invention and relating to flexible lateral arms;
  • FIG. 5 is a view along Section A-A in FIG. 2 of the drawings, showing the lateral wall and arrangement of the bristles;
  • FIG. 6 shows a plan view of the bristle arrangement on the toothbrush in accordance with one aspect of the invention;
  • FIG. 7 shows a back schematic view of a toothbrush in accordance with the invention;
  • FIG. 8 shows a perspective view of a toothbrush in accordance with the invention;
  • FIG. 9 shows a section through the toothbrush, in side view, showing the lateral walls;
  • FIGS. 9( a) and 9(b) show alternative details of the lateral wall in FIG. 9 of the drawings;
  • FIG. 10 shows a front view of the toothbrush in FIG. 8 of the drawings;
  • FIG. 11 shows a partial top view of the toothbrush shown in FIG. 8 of the drawings;
  • FIG. 12 shows a back view of the head of the toothbrush shown in FIG. 8 of the drawings;
  • FIG. 13 shows a schematic plan view of a bristle arrangement of the toothbrush in FIG. 8 of the drawings;
  • FIG. 14 shows a schematic view of a toothbrush in accordance with one aspect of the invention, having two lateral walls, and their relationship to teeth;
  • FIG. 15 is a schematic plan view of a toothbrush having lateral walls, each having there portions flexible relative to each other, and the relationship thereof with certain teeth misaligned;
  • FIG. 16 is a front view a toothbrush in accordance with another embodiment of the invention showing an alternative bristle arrangement;
  • FIG. 17 shows the toothbrush illustrated in FIG. 16 from the rear and surrounding a tooth;
  • FIG. 18 is a detail of FIG. 16 showing the configuration of the base member bristles penetrating the fissures and crevices of a tooth;
  • FIG. 19 is a detail of the toothbrush shown in FIG. 16 showing the bristles penetrating the sulcus;
  • FIG. 20 is a side view of the toothbrush shown in FIG. 16 of the drawings;
  • FIG. 20A is a detail of the wall portion shown in FIG. 20 of the drawings;
  • FIG. 21 is another design of a toothbrush on accordance with the invention;
  • FIGS. 22 to 28 show various embodiments of the toothbrush of the present invention, with varying amounts of heads and bases;
  • FIG. 29 shows a detailed view of a toothbrush in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention with particularly configured bristles;
  • FIG. 30 shows a back view of a toothbrush of the invention and possible flexible movements;
  • FIG. 31 shows an end or front view of a toothbrush and possible flexible movements thereof;
  • FIG. 32 shows an embodiment of the invention showing the diversity of flexibility;
  • FIG. 33 shows the use of a toothbrush in accordance with the invention on maxillary teeth;
  • FIG. 34 shows a toothbrush of the invention also on maxillary permanent teeth, in a slightly different position;
  • FIG. 35 shows a view of a toothbrush when used on other maxillary permanent teeth;
  • FIG. 36 is a view of posterior teeth and the use thereon by a toothbrush;
  • FIGS. 37( a), 37(b), 37(c) and 37(d) are bottom, top, section and plan views of a toothbrush in accordance with one aspect of the invention which has both brushing and polishing bristles;
  • FIGS. 38( a), 38(b), 38(c) and 38(d) are bottom, top, section and plan views of a toothbrush in accordance with one aspect of the invention which has both brushing and polishing bristles, similar to that shown in FIG. 37, but on a smaller scale;
  • FIGS. 39( a), 39(b), 39(c) and 39(d) are a series of top and end views of a toothbrush in accordance with a further aspect of the invention;
  • FIGS. 40( a), 40(b) and 40(c) illustrate top and section views of a toothbrush in accordance with a further aspect of the invention;
  • FIG. 41 shows a detail in construction of a toothbrush in accordance with an aspect of the invention; and
  • FIG. 42 shows a detail of the bristles configuration in a further embodiment of the invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • Reference is now made to FIG. 1 of the drawings which shows a schematic view of a toothbrush 12 in accordance with one embodiment of the invention and having a handle 14 and a head 16. The head 16 comprises a base member 18, a first lateral wall 20, and a second lateral wall 22. The base member 18 and first and second lateral walls 20 and 22 define a generally U-shaped structure, best seen in FIG. 2 of the drawings, as will be described further below. Note that the base member 28 and first and second lateral walls 20 and 22 define a space 24 in which the teeth of the user are accommodated during the brushing procedure.
  • The first and second lateral walls 20 and 22 have selectively arranged traditional bristles 26 and rubber bristles 28. The traditional bristles 26 and rubber bristles 28 collectively operate to both clean and polish the teeth as the toothbrush moves over them.
  • FIG. 2 of the drawings shows an end view of a toothbrush head 16 as generally seen in FIG. 1 of the drawings. It will be seen that each of the lateral walls 20 and 22 is connected to the base member 18 at a connection point 30. The connection point 30 is better seen in terms of its structure and layout in FIG. 3 of the drawings. It will be seen that the point of connection 30 is in fact an area of reduced size or diameter attachment, which slightly weakens the rigidity of the connection between the lateral wall 20 and 22 and the base, thereby allowing the lateral wall 20 and 22 to move back and forth in response to some applied force or pressure. Further details relating thereto will be described below. A flexible ring 32 surrounds the connection point 30.
  • Reverting to FIG. 2 of the drawings, it will be seen that the base member 18 has an upwardly extending set of bristles 36, which have a contoured upper surface 38, including a central peak and lateral peaks. The contour of the upper surface 38 will generally engage with the chewing surface or occlusal area of the tooth, which largely has a thicker enamel, and will, by the stroke of a toothbrush, help to remove debris and plaque therefrom.
  • It will also be seen that the bristles 26 and 28 on the lateral walls 20 and 22 extend upwardly at an approximately 45° angle. The bristles 26 and 28 are selectively interspersed and placed in a pattern, to be described below, which may best address the dual objectives of the bristles on the side walls, namely, the cleaning and polishing of the tooth.
  • It will also be seen in FIG. 2 of the drawings that the top set of bristles 40 are slightly longer than those below it. As described, the purpose of these longer bristles is to enable their reach into the sulcus, or the space between the tooth and the gingiva or gum which surrounds the tooth, so as to brush and sweep out any debris which has accumulated therein.
  • The rings 32 around the connection point 30 are comprised of rubbers and help to achieve additional flexibility. The configuration preferably helps to promote the application of only a passive pressure to the tooth, thereby avoiding excessive forces on the tooth which can lead to accelerated enamel abrasion.
  • The design of the toothbrush, and particularly the base and lateral walls 20 and 22 with the configured bristles 26 and 28 will seclude pressure and forces primarily on the occlusal area, which is the chewing surfaces. These surfaces are harder and thicker compared to the facial, buccal and lingual areas of the tooth, which are the smooth surfaces. Therefore, the arrangement of the bristles, the substrates on which they are mounted, the type of the bristle used and the angles thereof are all selected and configured to provide greater pressure and cleaning intensity on the chewing surface of the tooth, while providing less pressure on the smoother or side-surfaces of the tooth.
  • It is generally acknowledged that one of the leading causes of enamel abrasion is the product of faulty brushing of the teeth, and is an effect not only of using a toothbrush with hard bristles, but also by using excessive force over a period of time on the enamel when brushing the teeth.
  • In FIG. 5 of the drawings, a schematic side view of the toothbrush 12 is shown, including the handle 14 and the head 16. The first lateral wall 20 is shown, as is the connection point 30, two of them, which allows the lateral wall 20 to rock or pivot slightly thereon, so as to move back and forth into and out of the space 24 in response to the position of teeth and the tooth brushing action.
  • It will be seen from FIG. 5 that an opening 44 is provided to allow flow of fluid, which may contain debris and plaque, so that these will not become permanently embedded or attached to the toothbrush. The opening 44 thus allows appropriate flow to preserve hygienic conditions to the extent possible.
  • The layout of the various bristles 26 and 28 are shown schematically in FIG. 5 of the drawings. The circular depictions represent the traditional bristles, while the square depictions represent the rubber bristles 28. The traditional bristles 26 and rubber bristles 28 together effectively combine to provide both a cleaning and polishing action respectively, as described above.
  • FIG. 6 of the drawings is a detailed view of the set of bristles 36 shown on the base member 18. FIG. 6 shows one particular configuration or arrangement of this set of bristles 36. This set of bristles on the base 18, or middle area, are preferably entirely of the traditional bristle type, and not combined with the rubber bristles which will typically be mounted on the lateral walls. Since enamel on the occlusal areas is much thicker than that on the smooth surface of a tooth, these traditional bristles are more appropriately located on the base member, and are shaped like a crown and pointed in the middle to properly penetrate and cleanse fissural areas on the tooth. Fissures are deep openings or crevices where plaque and debris are highly likely to be trapped. Plaque which collects in this area is very difficult to remove. The traditional bristles are a good primary mechanism for unclogging this plaque and debris, which is why the set of bristles 36 is comprised almost entirely (but not necessarily) of these traditional bristles. In this way, fissures, crevices and the like, located on the occlusal area will be properly debrided and cleared of debris to thereby facilitate the prevention of caries development.
  • In FIG. 7 of the drawings, there is shown a back view of the toothbrush in accordance with the invention, such as that seen in FIG. 5. The back of the toothbrush includes a tongue scraper 50, which may be comprised of rubber. This tongue scraper 50 is moved over the tongue to remove or scrape off matter embedded therein and to clean it. Further, FIG. 7 also shows the holes 44 on the side of the toothbrush head 16, constructed into the toothbrush 12 to facilitate good hygiene. Without these openings, plaque and debris removed, as well as other debris in the mouth, may become encrusted or attached to the toothbrush, and may also serve as a platform that leads to bacterial colonization.
  • FIG. 8 of the drawing shows a toothbrush in accordance with a further aspect of the invention. The toothbrush 60 has a handle 62 and a head 64. The head 64 is comprised of the base member 66, a first lateral wall 68 and a second lateral wall 70.
  • In this embodiment shown in FIG. 8, each of the lateral walls 68 and 70 is comprised of three independently movable wall portions 72. The base member 66 has the upwardly extending set of traditional bristles, while the first and second lateral walls 68 and 70 have the combination of the traditional bristles 76 and rubber bristles 78. The fact that the first and second lateral walls 68 and 70 each have three independently movable wall portions 72, each separately mounted to the base member 66, allows each wall portion 72 to move back and forth independently of the other wall portions 72, and in response to passive forces provided by the configuration and position of the teeth.
  • It will be noted that each wall portion 72 is secured to the base member through a connection point 80, which, in one embodiment is generally comprised of a reduced size connection to the extent that each wall portion 72 is able to possess somewhat resilient properties and is capable of moving into and out of the space 84, according to the position of the teeth as well as the brushing action of the user. The connection point 80 for each of the wall portions 72 will also have a ring 86 of generally similar type and configuration to that described above with respect to FIGS. 3 and 4 of the drawings.
  • FIG. 8 thus shows a toothbrush which in effect has seven individual heads having superior flexibility properties. This embodiment particularly shows a toothbrush designed not just for the perfectly aligned set of teeth, but one which may also be more suitable for people with mild to moderate teeth malalignment.
  • FIG. 9 of the drawings shows a side view of one of the lateral arms 68, showing each of the wall portions 72 mounted to the base member 66. Each wall portion 72 is mounted through the connection point 80 having the ring 86, as described. FIG. 9A shows a detail of FIG. 9, where it can be seen that each wall portion 72 is spaced just slightly from its adjacent wall portion 72, thus allowing each wall portion 72 to move forward and backward into and out of the space 84 in response to the forces described above. In FIG. 9A, the corners of adjacent wall portions are squared off. FIG. 9B shows an alternative to the configuration in FIG. 9A where the corners of adjacent wall portions 72 are rounded. This structure may help to prevent the corners overlapping slightly when the wall portions 72 may be bent toward each other by the force of brushing or the alignment of the teeth.
  • FIG. 9 also clearly illustrates the position of the two holes 90 and 92 through which fluids, debris and other material can flow out of and away from the toothbrush to facilitate and maintain hygienic conditions.
  • FIG. 10 shows an end view of the toothbrush seen in FIG. 8 of the drawings, while FIG. 11 shows a top view of one of the lateral arms, illustrating the three wall portions 72 on each of the lateral arms. FIG. 12 shows a back view, including the holes 90 and 92, and showing a tongue scraper. FIG. 13 shows a bristle configuration on the base member in accordance with one aspect of the invention. It will be appreciated that many different bristle arrangements can be used within the scope and concept of the invention.
  • FIG. 14 shows the schematic representation of a toothbrush where the lateral wall is a solid or continuous piece, as seen in FIGS. 1 and 2 of the drawings. These lateral walls are therefore also accorded numbers 20 and 22 for convenience. It will be seen that each of the lateral walls 20 and 22, based on its pivoted mounting on the base, is capable of moving back-and-forth in the direction shown by arrows 100. This type of configuration would be more suitable for a person with a generally well-aligned set of teeth, although too, it would be completely adequate as well for users whose teeth configuration may not be perfect.
  • In FIG. 15 of the drawings, there is shown a representation of a set of teeth 104 which is moderately misaligned. In this illustration, it will be seen that each of the lateral walls, having reference numerals 68 and 70 for continuity and convenience, has three wall portions 72, as also shown in FIG. 8 of the drawings, and similar reference numerals have therefore been used in FIG. 15 of the drawings to those in FIG. 8. It will be seen in FIG. 15 that each of the wall portions 72 and its attached bristles 76 and 78 is capable of moving back-and-forth into the space 84, occupied by the set of teeth 104, in both of the opposing directions indicated by the various arrows 106. It is clearly seen in this illustration that the sweep of the toothbrush along the teeth is able to effectively reach all of the teeth in the most optimal manner, due to the resilience of the wall portion 72, and their ability to move back-and-forth in the space 84 in response to the position of the teeth.
  • In FIG. 16 of the drawings, there is shown another toothbrush 120 in accordance with the invention. The toothbrush 120 a base member 122 and lateral walls 124 and 126. The lateral arms 124 and 126 move about pivot points 128 as described above. The base member 122 has a set of bristles 130 and the lateral walls each have a set of bristles 132 and 134 respectively. The bristles 132 and 134 are configured in terms of length and shape so that all they are capable of penetrating the sulcus. This is in fact illustrated in FIG. 17 of the drawings which illustrates a tooth 138 and its sulcus 140. It will be seen that the longer end bristles on the set of bristles 132 and 134 penetrate the sulcus. FIG. 19 of the drawings is a detail of FIG. 17 showing the sulcus 140, tooth 138 and the bristles 132 and 134 penetrating the sulcus.
  • FIG. 17 also shows how the lateral walls 124 and 126 can move in response to pressure or force. These lateral walls 124 and 126 are shown in solid lines in resting position and in phantom lines in an alternative position according to the location of teeth and the force of the brushing action.
  • In FIG. 16 of the drawings, it will be seen that set of bristles 130 on the base member 122 has a contour 144 on its upper surface, and FIG. 18 is a detail which illustrates how this specially designed contoured surface in practice penetrates the fissures and the crevices of the tooth for optimal cleaning effect.
  • FIG. 20 of the drawings illustrates a side view of one of the lateral walls 126 which has three wall portions 154, 156 and 158 adjacent each other. Traditional and rubber bristles 160 and 162 respectively are arranged on the lateral wall 126 as described above. In FIG. 20, the ends 166 of the wall portions 154, 156 and 158 are rounded or arc shaped. FIG. 20A shows a detail form FIG. 20 illustrating the space 170 between the wall portions.
  • In FIG. 21 of the drawings, there is shown another design of the toothbrush of the invention which mimics the scallop contour of the gingival margin for proper gingival adaptation that will promote proper or optimal cleaning of the sulcus and gingival area for each individual tooth.
  • FIGS. 22( a) to 22(c) show a side, top and end view of a toothbrush in accordance with the invention having five heads, namely, four on the sides and one on the base, which are able to move relative to each other. FIGS. 23( a) to 23(d) show a side section, back, top and an end or front view of a toothbrush in accordance with another aspect of the invention, which has six heads, namely four on the sides, that is two on each side, and two on the base. The flexible sides, in this embodiment and others illustrated herein, allow the various heads to move independently so as to adapt more appropriately to the contour and shape of the user's teeth.
  • FIGS. 24( a) to 24(d) show a side section, back, top and front view of a toothbrush in accordance with the invention, this one having nine heads comprising six side heads with three on each side, and three on the base. FIGS. 25( a) to 25(d) of the invention show yet another embodiment having a side section, back, top and front view of a toothbrush, this one having nine heads, with six on the sides and three on the base, somewhat similar to that shown in FIG. 24 of the drawings, but with squared-off rather than rounded edges.
  • FIGS. 26( a) to 26(c) show yet another embodiment of the invention with a side section, top and front view of the toothbrush having nine heads, comprising eight side heads with four on each side, and one on the base. FIGS. 27( a) to 27(e) show yet another embodiment of the invention with a side section, back, top, front and plan view of the toothbrush, this one having eleven heads, eight side heads comprising four on each side and three on the base. FIGS. 28( a) to 28(e) show another toothbrush, generally similar to that shown in FIG. 27 of the drawings, with rounded side heads as opposed to squared-off side heads.
  • FIG. 32 of the drawings shows a side view of a toothbrush in accordance with the invention with flexible plastic coils or components which not only allow the base of the toothbrush to move laterally in both directions, but will also allow lateral bristles to have back-and-forth, and up-and-down movement in almost any controlled direction. These movements will allow enhanced contact of all bristles with individual tooth surfaces, and will mimic and follow arch configurations with passive contact and without too much force. These will therefore, assist in proper oral debridement and hygiene.
  • FIG. 29 of the drawings shows a view of a toothbrush and it is to be noted that the shape and number of the side bristles may vary with toothbrush models for use by children and adults.
  • FIG. 30 of the drawings shows a back view of part of a toothbrush, the arrows showing possible flexible movements. FIG. 31 shows an end view or front view of a toothbrush with a flexible plastic coil and possible flexible movements, as indicated by the arrows shown therein.
  • FIG. 33 show an occlusal view of maxillary teeth up to the second premolar with, once again, the various arrows indicating the flexibility of the toothbrush in accordance with the invention. FIG. 34 shows a toothbrush in accordance with the invention in an occlusal view of maxillary teeth, and the mechanism of the action of the side bristles on the eleven-headed toothbrush with flexible coil, shown from the posterior to anterior teeth. All of the bristles are able to follow the arch properly with predictable contact and adaptability to each individual tooth surface for most optimum hygiene. FIG. 35 is a further similar view to those immediately preceding, the toothbrush shown in an occlusal view of maxillary permanent teeth. Once more, arrows show flexibility. FIG. 36 shows a view of the posterior teeth with a toothbrush including the coils. Note that the elevation of one of the teeth is marked with an asterisk and that the flexible action of the coil follows this contour and elevation notwithstanding the difference with respect to the configuration of the surrounding teeth. Again, the arrows show the flexibility of movement of the base bristles with the help of the flexible coil.
  • FIGS. 37( a), (b), (c) and (d) are bottom, top, section and plan views of a toothbrush in accordance with one aspect of the invention which has both brushing and polishing bristles. The toothbrush in these figures has six sides, three on each laterality, and a base, providing a total of seven heads. Two types of bristle are shown in this embodiment. First, there is a smaller diameter rubber bristle, designated generally by small circles. This bristle may generally be of the type shown in previous embodiments. Second, there is also formed a larger rubber bristle, designated generally by small squares. These bristles may have separate tasks. The smaller bristle, which may have a diameter of about 1.2 mm, may address the issues of brushing the teeth, while the larger bristle, which may have dimensions of about 2×2 mm and an approximate square configuration in section, may be present for the purposes of polishing the teeth. Therefore, the combination of these two types of bristles, each addressing a different function, will provide both cleaning and polishing of the teeth in a single action.
  • FIGS. 38( a), (b), (c) and (d) show a similar type toothbrush to that illustrated in FIG. 38 insofar as this toothbrush has the dual bristles for both brushing and polishing of the teeth. However, this toothbrush has a total of five heads, instead of seven, with two side heads on each laterality and a base. The toothbrush illustrated in FIG. 38 may be for younger people, as opposed to adults. It should be noted that the size of the toothbrush, including the number of sides, the number of bristles, the configuration thereof, and the dimensions of the bristles, may will be varied in accordance with the invention, such as to suit the age or mouth of the user.
  • The various illustrations of a toothbrush in FIG. 39 show a toothbrush with seven heads, including six sides and one base. FIGS. 39( a) and 39(b) both show top views, the first illustrating smaller bristles (1.2 diameter rubber bristle), and the second illustrating the slightly larger bristles (2×2 rubber bristles). FIGS. 39( c) and 39 (d) show front views illustrating the respective bristles.
  • FIGS. 40( a), 40(b) and 40(c) show a top and two section views respectively of another toothbrush in accordance with the invention. These figures illustrate the presence of a scallop shaped rubber component on the upper portion of the lateral heads, integrated with a regular plastic base.
  • FIG. 41 illustrates a detail in construction of a toothbrush in one aspect of the invention including a flexible rubber outer frame component and an inner plastic component.
  • FIG. 42 illustrates a detail of a further embodiment of the invention. In this embodiment, the bristles on the side of the toothbrush may be in two different configurations or positions relative to each other. First, a set of lower bristles is provided and may be at an angle other than 90° relative to the side wall of the toothbrush. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 42, the lower set of bristles are angled slightly upwardly. In one form of the invention, these bristles may be upwardly angled at approximately 45° relative to the sidewall of the toothbrush, but the invention is not limited to such an angle. Second, a set of higher bristles are mounted such that they are at substantially 90° relative to the sidewall of the toothbrush. Note that the set of higher bristles may not necessarily be at precisely 90° relative to the sidewall, but may also be slightly angled to some degree, such as, as examples only, at 5, 10, 15 or 20°. These bristles, either the upper or lower, may be comprised of rubber or regular bristles, or a combination thereof. The differently mounted bristles as illustrated in this figure may be useful to prevent abrasion, polish the tooth, and stimulate or massage the gums.
  • The invention is not limited to the precise details described herein. Many variations may be made, such as to the type, size, length, design, material, orientation, hardness or softness and configuration of the bristles, as well as the number of wall portions.

Claims (27)

  1. 1. A toothbrush comprising:
    a handle portion; and
    a head portion having a base member and first and second lateral walls extending upwardly therefrom to define a space, the base member and first and second lateral walls having bristles arranged thereon extending into the space, at least one of the first and second lateral walls being pivotable relative to the base member to permit the side walls to move into and out of the space in response to forces.
  2. 2. A toothbrush as claimed in claim 1 wherein the base member and first and second lateral walls define a generally U-shaped structure, the space being formed thereby.
  3. 3. A toothbrush as claimed in claim 1 wherein at least one of the first and second lateral walls are connected to the base member such that the first and/or second lateral walls pivot into and out of the space in response to the forces.
  4. 4. A toothbrush as claimed in claim 1 wherein 3 further comprising a point of connection between the base member and the first and second lateral walls.
  5. 5. A toothbrush as claimed in claim 4 wherein the point of connection comprises a reduced size connection constituting a point of weakness to allow the pivoting of the first and/or second lateral walls relative to the base member.
  6. 6. A toothbrush as claimed in claim 1 wherein both the first and the second lateral walls are pivotable relative to the base member.
  7. 7. A toothbrush as claimed in claim 5 further comprising a rubber ring formed about the point of connection.
  8. 8. A toothbrush as claimed in claim 1 wherein at least one of the first and second lateral walls are comprised of two or more wall portions, each of the wall portions being separately connected to the base member so that each of the wall portions is pivotable relative to the base member independently of other wall portions.
  9. 9. A toothbrush as claimed in claim 8 wherein both the first and second lateral walls are comprised of two or more wall portions.
  10. 10. A toothbrush as claimed in claim 8 wherein first or second lateral walls are comprised of three wall portions.
  11. 11. A toothbrush as claimed in claim 1 wherein the first and the second lateral walls are each comprised of three wall portions.
  12. 12. A toothbrush as claimed in claim 1 wherein the base member has mounted thereon traditional nylon bristles selectively arranged thereon to clean an occlusal surface of a tooth being brushed.
  13. 13. A toothbrush as claimed in claim 1 wherein each of the lateral walls has a combination of traditional nylon bristles and rubber bristles interspersedly mounted thereon and selectively arranged thereon to clean and polish a smooth side surface of a tooth being brushed.
  14. 14. A toothbrush as claimed in claim 13 wherein the traditional and rubber bristles are mounted so as to extend into the space at an angle which is approximately 45 degrees to the first and second lateral walls respectively.
  15. 15. A toothbrush as claimed in claim 13 wherein the first and second lateral walls have a set of top bristles and a set of lower bristles, the top bristles being slightly longer than the lower bristles, the top bristles being configured to clean the sulcus or below the gum area.
  16. 16. A toothbrush as claimed in claim 12 wherein traditional bristles mounted on the base member have a contoured upper surface designed to reach and clean fissures and crevices in the tooth.
  17. 17. A toothbrush as claimed in claim 16 wherein the contoured upper surface comprises a substantially central peak, a pair of median valleys and a pair of end peaks.
  18. 18. A toothbrush as claimed in claim 1 further comprising at least one opening formed between the first and second lateral walls and the base member to facilitate flow of liquid and debris away from the toothbrush.
  19. 19. A toothbrush as claimed in claim 1 further comprising a tongue cleaner formed on the head of the toothbrush.
  20. 20. A toothbrush comprising:
    a handle portion; and
    a head portion having a base member and first and second lateral walls extending upwardly therefrom to define a space, the base member and first and second lateral walls having bristles arranged thereon extending into the space, the bristles of the base member comprising nylon traditional bristles, and the bristles of the first and second lateral walls comprising a combination of traditional nylon bristles and rubber bristles.
  21. 21. A toothbrush as claimed in claim 20 wherein the traditional and rubber bristles on the first and second lateral walls are mounted so as to extend into the space at an angle which is approximately 45 degrees to the first and second lateral walls respectively.
  22. 22. A toothbrush as claimed in claim 20 wherein bristles on the first and second lateral walls comprise a set of top bristles and a set of lower bristles, the top bristles being slightly longer than the lower bristles, the top bristles being configured to clean the sulcus or below the gum area.
  23. 23. A toothbrush as claimed in claim 20 wherein at least one of the first and second lateral walls is pivotable relative to the base member to permit the side walls to move into and out of the space in response to forces.
  24. 24. A toothbrush as claimed in claim 23 wherein both of the first and second lateral walls are pivotable relative to the base member.
  25. 25. A toothbrush as claimed in claim 1 comprising a first bristle for brushing the teeth and a second bristle for polishing the teeth, the first and second bristles being differently configured to achieve their purpose.
  26. 26. A toothbrush as claimed in claim 25 wherein the first resource is generally circular in section, and the second bristle is generally square in section.
  27. 27. A toothbrush as claimed in claim 1 wherein the bristles on the lateral walls comprise a lower set of bristles extending upwardly at about 45° relative to the sidewalk and a higher set of bristles extending outwardly from the side wall at about 90° relative thereto.
US13548139 2009-10-01 2012-07-12 FlexibleToothbrush Abandoned US20130067670A1 (en)

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US12587036 US20110078867A1 (en) 2009-10-01 2009-10-01 Flexible toothbrush
PCT/US2010/002612 WO2011040952A1 (en) 2009-10-01 2010-09-24 Flexible toothbrush
US201213435682 true 2012-03-30 2012-03-30
US13548139 US20130067670A1 (en) 2009-10-01 2012-07-12 FlexibleToothbrush

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US13548139 US20130067670A1 (en) 2009-10-01 2012-07-12 FlexibleToothbrush

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US9648942B2 (en) 2014-08-19 2017-05-16 Regents Of The University Of Minnesota Toothbrush
USD792108S1 (en) * 2016-09-19 2017-07-18 Steve Lolis Tooth and gum brush

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US5673454A (en) * 1995-07-11 1997-10-07 Benefit International Products, Ltd. Three-head toothbrush
US20040087882A1 (en) * 1995-11-09 2004-05-06 Gillette Canada Company, A Canadian Corporation Gum massaging oral brush
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US5758383A (en) * 1995-12-29 1998-06-02 Colgate-Palmolive Company Contouring toothbrush head
US6030215A (en) * 1998-09-04 2000-02-29 Ellion; M. Edmund Hand-held self-contained oral irrigation device
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US7036180B2 (en) * 2001-10-11 2006-05-02 Barbara Hanlon Tooth brush with four bristle groups
US7055205B2 (en) * 2001-12-21 2006-06-06 Yoshihiro Aoyama Toothbrush and head thereof
US20030226223A1 (en) * 2002-06-11 2003-12-11 The Procter & Gamble Co. High efficiency electric toothbrush
US20060026784A1 (en) * 2002-08-09 2006-02-09 Colgate-Palmolive Company Oral care implement
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Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US9648942B2 (en) 2014-08-19 2017-05-16 Regents Of The University Of Minnesota Toothbrush
USD792108S1 (en) * 2016-09-19 2017-07-18 Steve Lolis Tooth and gum brush

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