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Publication numberUS20030208870 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/427,356
Publication dateNov 13, 2003
Filing dateMay 1, 2003
Priority dateMay 9, 2002
Also published asUSD474029
Publication number10427356, 427356, US 2003/0208870 A1, US 2003/208870 A1, US 20030208870 A1, US 20030208870A1, US 2003208870 A1, US 2003208870A1, US-A1-20030208870, US-A1-2003208870, US2003/0208870A1, US2003/208870A1, US20030208870 A1, US20030208870A1, US2003208870 A1, US2003208870A1
InventorsEduardo Jimenez
Original AssigneeColgate-Palmolive Company
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Toothbrush
US 20030208870 A1
Abstract
A toothbrush includes a flexible neck connecting the head to the handle. The handle is a stout handle which is wider than the width of the head. At least a portion of the handle has a channel in its outer surface to reduce the amount of material of said handle.
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Claims(20)
What is claimed is:
1. A toothbrush comprising a handle, a head having a front surface and a rear surface, cleaning elements mounted outwardly from said front surface, a flexible neck connecting said head to said handle, said handle being a stout handle being wider than the width of said head, and at least a portion of said handle having a void to reduce the amount of material of said handle.
2. The toothbrush of claim 1 wherein said handle has at least one channel in its outer surface to comprise said void.
3. The toothbrush of claim 2 wherein said handle has a front surface on the same side of said handle as said front surface of said head and a rear surface on the same side of said handle as said rear surface of said head, and said channel being located in said front surface of said handle.
4. The toothbrush of claim 3 including a further channel located in said rear surface of said handle in the general area of said neck.
5. The toothbrush of claim 2 wherein said channel is of stepped formation having a shallow portion and an intermediate portion and a deep portion.
6. The toothbrush of claim 2 wherein said channel is in a side surface of said handle.
7. The toothbrush of claim 6 wherein said channel extends completely through said handle from one side surface to the opposite side surface.
8. The toothbrush of claim 2 wherein said handle has a front surface on the same side of said handle as said front surface of said head, said handle having a rear surface on the same side as said rear surface of said head, each of said front surface of said handle and said rear surface of said handle having an outwardly curved profile to provide a bulge in the side profile of said handle.
9. The toothbrush of claim 8 wherein said channel is in said front surface of said handle.
10. The toothbrush of claim 9 including a further channel in said rear surface of said handle located in the general area of said neck.
11. The toothbrush of claim 8 wherein said front surface is a smooth curve from the remote tip of said handle to said neck, and said rear surface of said handle having an S-shaped curve.
12. The toothbrush of claim 1 wherein said flexible neck is in the form of a joint having an undulated outer surface of varying thickness.
13. The toothbrush of claim 12 wherein said joint comprises a plurality of outwardly extending rings interconnected by reduced diameter connections, and said neck being made of a flexible elastomeric material.
14. The toothbrush of claim 1 wherein said flexible neck includes an aperture extending completely through said neck, a backbone on one side of said aperture, and a bridge on the opposite side of said aperture.
15. The toothbrush of claim 13 wherein said bridge is of an undulated formation having inward and outward bends.
16. The toothbrush of claim 14 wherein said bridge includes a single centrally located inward bend.
17. The toothbrush of claim 1 wherein said cleaning elements comprise bristles having a side profile in the form of a wave.
18. A toothbrush comprising a handle, a head having a front surface and a rear surface, cleaning elements mounted outwardly from said front surface, a flexible neck connecting said head to said handle, said flexible neck including an aperture extending completely through said neck from one side surface to the opposite side surface, a backbone extending longitudinally over said aperture, a bridge extending longitudinally over said aperture remote from said backbone, and said bridge including at least one inwardly directed indent.
19. The toothbrush of claim 18 wherein said bridge is of undulated structure having a plurality of indents.
20. The toothbrush of claim 18 wherein said bridge has a single inwardly directed centrally located indent.
Description
    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0001]
    Various techniques have been used to enhance the appearance of toothbrushes so as to attract the attention of users and thereby encourage the use of the toothbrush.
  • [0002]
    A form of toothbrush having popularity is one wherein the handle is of an enlarged size which has ergonomic benefits as well as a pleasing appearance. A difficulty with such large size or stout handles, however, is that when the toothbrushes are mass produced the large handles require more time for the plastic material used for making the handles to cool. It would be desirable if a toothbrush could be fabricated having the benefits of large handles without the manufacturing detriments.
  • [0003]
    The prior art has taken various approaches in forming toothbrushes having some areas of flexibility. Reference is made to U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,146,645, 6,367,112, 6,292,973, 4,520,526 and 5,765,254. Reference is also made to the following patents which disclose toothbrushes having cavities or apertures in the handle and/or neck, namely, U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,109,339, 4,283,808, 4,654,921, 5,272,784, 5,377,377 and 5,735,012 and UK patent application GB2282959, UK patent 169450 and German DE 298 20 182, Japanese patent application H 11-334284 and Japanese patent disclosure no. 2001-211936. Reference is also made to U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,054,154 and 5,903,949 which disclose toothbrushes having flexible necks. Reference is also made to design Pat. Nos. D360,981, D372,363, D417,960, D451,283, D453,269, D388,959 and D360,761.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0004]
    An object of this invention is to provide a toothbrush having an enhanced appearance.
  • [0005]
    A further object of this invention is to provide such a toothbrush having a stout handle, but one which could be mass produced using less material and improved manufacturing speed as compared to toothbrushes having conventional stout handles.
  • [0006]
    In accordance with this invention the toothbrush includes a head which carries the cleaning elements, such as bristles. The head is secured to a handle by a neck. In accordance with this invention the neck is flexible. The handle is of a large size having a width which is wider than the width of the head. At least a portion of the handle is of reduced thickness while still maintaining its stout appearance to reduce the amount of material necessary for forming the handle. As a result, when the handle is molded it can be molded at a higher speed than would otherwise result with conventional oversize or stout handles.
  • [0007]
    The handle may include at least one channel for receiving some of the fingers of the user, such as the thumb. If desired, a further channel could be disposed on an opposite side of the handle for receiving an additional finger, such as the index finger.
  • THE DRAWINGS
  • [0008]
    [0008]FIG. 1 is a side elevational view partly in section of a toothbrush formed in accordance with this invention;
  • [0009]
    [0009]FIG. 2 is a front elevational view of the toothbrush shown in FIG. 1;
  • [0010]
    [0010]FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view taken through FIG. 2 along the line 3-3;
  • [0011]
    [0011]FIG. 4 is a side elevational view of a further form of handle in accordance with this invention;
  • [0012]
    [0012]FIG. 5 is a front elevational view of the toothbrush shown in FIG. 4;
  • [0013]
    [0013]FIG. 6 is a side elevational view partly in section of yet another toothbrush in accordance with this invention;
  • [0014]
    [0014]FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view taken through FIG. 6 along the line 7-7;
  • [0015]
    [0015]FIG. 8 is a side elevational view of a power operated toothbrush in accordance with this invention;
  • [0016]
    FIGS. 9-10 are side elevational views of yet another toothbrush in accordance with this invention in different stages of operation; and
  • [0017]
    FIGS. 11-12 are views similar to FIGS. 9-10 of yet another toothbrush in accordance with this invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • [0018]
    FIGS. 1-3 illustrate a toothbrush 10 in accordance with this invention. As shown therein toothbrush 10 includes a handle 12 and a head 14 connected to the handle 12 by a neck 16. Head 14 carries a plurality of cleaning elements 18 which are schematically illustrated. Cleaning elements 18 may be of any known form such as bristles or elastomeric cleaning or massaging members.
  • [0019]
    In accordance with one aspect of this invention the neck 16 is a flexible neck which permits the head 14 to move in various directions such as shown in phantom in FIG. 1 where the neck could move in a rotational direction wherein its longitudinal axis pivots about the neck 16 which functions as a pivot joint. The pivot joint could result from a series of rings and intermediate valleys or connecting sections creating an undulated outer surface at neck 16. The flexibility of the neck could be particularly enhanced by making neck 16 from a soft resilient elastomeric material.
  • [0020]
    As best shown in FIG. 2 handle 12 is a stout or oversized handle having a width or transverse dimension greater than the width or transverse dimension of head 14. As best shown in FIG. 3 handle 12 includes a dished out or channel portion 20 over substantially its entire length so that the resultant thickness of handle 12 is generally uniform, although when viewed from the side (FIG. 1) the handle profile appears to have an outwardly curved front surface 22 and a rear surface 24. By having the longitudinal channel 20 in handle 12, handle 12 is made from less material. As a result, when the toothbrushes 10 and in particular the handles 12 are massed produced there is no increase in time required for the plastic material to cool than would otherwise result if the handle did not include a channel. Moreover, by forming the channel 20 in handle 12 there is less material used which reduces cost and improves the speed in manufacturing. Accordingly, the incorporation of channel 20 reduces the material while still giving the desired fat or oversized appearance which is preferred for ergonomic reasons. Moreover, channel 20 provides a convenient location for the user to place one or more fingers when holding the toothbrush 10.
  • [0021]
    FIGS. 4-5 show a further toothbrush 10A having a flexible neck 16 connecting the head 14 to handle 12A. As shown therein the channel 20A is formed in a step type configuration wherein the depth of the channel gradually increases from portion 26 which is a generally shallow part of channel 20A to the deepest portion 28 with an intermediate depth portion 30. FIG. 4 also shows the cleaning element pattern to be a plurality of tufts of bristles 18A having a wave profile.
  • [0022]
    The neck 16 of FIGS. 4-5 also differs from the neck 16 of FIGS. 1-2 in that there is a smooth transition from the reduced thickness to the increased thickness sections of neck 16 in FIGS. 1-2 as compared to the more abrupt and distinct transitions shown in FIGS. 4-5.
  • [0023]
    [0023]FIGS. 6 and 7 illustrate yet another variation wherein the toothbrush 10B has a channel 34 formed in the backside of handle 12B opposite the main channel 36. Channel 36 may conveniently function for receiving one or more fingers of the user while channel 34 may function for receiving other fingers. It is preferred that the channels extend close to the neck 16 so that, for example, the thumb could be readily received in one channel while the index finger and/or other fingers received in the opposite channel.
  • [0024]
    [0024]FIG. 6 shows the cleaning elements to be bristles 18B forming a profile having two longitudinal end sections which taper inwardly and then form an intermediate section which tapers outwardly. Toothbrushes 10, 10A and 10B could be of any suitable dimensions. For example, the toothbrush may have an overall length from the remote tip of handle 12 to the opposite remote end of head 14 which is about 190 mm. The thickness of handle 12 from the base of channel 20 to the outer surface 24 could be, for example, 5 mm while the sculpted handle could have a thinner wall design extending outwardly toward outer surface 22 of about 1.6-5 mm. Similar proportions could be used for handles 10A and 10B.
  • [0025]
    The toothbrushes 10, 10A and 10B accordingly comprise a one component toothbrush having a molded-in unique flexible neck feature. This provides a new ornamental design of the neck and the handle for the toothbrush. The details of the shape of the neck function and communicate flexibility and movement. The handle is contoured so as to appear stout while having a generally even material thickness. More particularly because of the provision of at least one channel in the handle the handle has a reduced thickness in at least one portion of its profile. In that regard, the profile shown, for example, in FIG. 1 is one in which the outer surfaces 22 and 24 and the side surfaces 23,23 give the appearance of a handle which is curved in its outer surfaces and stout in its side surfaces. Despite this overall oversize or stout appearance, because of the provision of at least one channel, the actual amount of material used is far less than would be expected when considering the oversize appearance of the handle.
  • [0026]
    [0026]FIG. 8 illustrates a variation of this invention wherein the toothbrush 10C is an electric or power operated toothbrush in contrast to toothbrushes 10, 10A and 10B being manual toothbrushes. As with the manual toothbrushes, electric toothbrush 10C would also include a head 14 connected to the handle 12C by a neck 16 which could be structured in the same manner as in the manual toothbrushes so as to provide the flexible neck feature. Because handle 10C houses the power components, such as the batteries and motor for operating the power toothbrush handle 10C is hollow. As a result, it is not necessary to form a channel in the outer surface of handle 10C in contrast to the manual toothbrushes previously illustrated wherein the channels are formed in the outer front and rear surfaces 22,24. Such contoured channels, however, may be included in handle 10C for ergonomic and aesthetic purposes.
  • [0027]
    Although not illustrated, electric toothbrush 10C could include at least one movable section which would cause movement of the cleaning elements 18C in any suitable direction such as a rotational oscillation, a continuous rotation, a longitudinal reciprocation, a transverse reciprocation or a pivoting about the longitudinal axis of head 14. The power to the head could be transmitted from a shaft extending through neck 16 to a suitable movable carrier in head 14 for carrying the cleaning elements 18C. The shaft could be a flexible shaft to accommodate the flexing movement resulting from neck 16.
  • [0028]
    As illustrated in various side views, particularly for the manual toothbrush the profile of the rear side of the toothbrush handle takes the shape of an S which bulges outwardly opposite the outward bulge of the front surface and then bends inwardly as the front and rear surfaces connect to the neck thereby forming a tapered section adjacent to the neck.
  • [0029]
    FIGS. 9-10 illustrate a toothbrush 10D wherein the flexible neck is achieved by having a cutout 38 extending completely through the neck from one side surface to the other leaving a backbone 40 and a flexible bridge 42. The backbone 40 and bridge 42 could be made of an elastomeric material that would permit the backbone and bridge to bend upon the application of force such as in either of the directions of the arrows 44,46 shown in FIG. 10. This would result in a bending of the head 14 as shown, for example, by the directional arrow 48 of FIG. 10. The flexible neck for the toothbrush 10D differs from the flexible neck shown with regard to the prior toothbrushes. In that respect, the flexible neck 16 is formed by a series of ribs extending outwardly and joined by smaller diameter connecting portions so as to result in an undulated outer surface of the neck 16. The neck of FIGS. 9-10, however, is formed by creating an aperture or opening completely through the neck portion to cause the flexibility.
  • [0030]
    FIGS. 9-10 also show an alternative manner of reducing the amount of material for the handle 12D. As shown therein an aperture 50 extends completely or at least partially through the handle 12D from one side surface toward the other side surface. In that sense the channel is located at the outer surface on at least one side of the handle whereas in the prior embodiments the channel is located on an outer surface at the front and/or rear portions of the handle rather than at the side.
  • [0031]
    FIGS. 11-12 show a variation where the toothbrush 10E includes a flexible joint formed by an aperture 52 extending completely through the neck so as to result in a backbone 54 on one side of aperture 52 with a bridge 56 on the other side. Bridge 56 is a thin bridging member which in its normal condition slopes outwardly away from backbone 54, but has a single indented portion 58 generally centrally located and disposed toward backbone 54. This differs from bridge 42 of FIGS. 9-10 which has a series of portions extending toward and away from backbone 40. When force is applied along the lines of force 44,46 the head 14 would bend as indicated for example by the arrow 48.
  • [0032]
    The handle 12E of FIGS. 11-12 would be formed more along the lines of the handles shown in FIGS. 1-2 and 4-6 wherein a channel 20 is formed in one of the outer surfaces of handle 12E.
  • [0033]
    In general, the invention thus comprises a toothbrush which could be manual or power operated. In the preferred practice of the invention the toothbrush has a flexible neck joining the handle to the head which has the cleaning elements. In the preferred practice of the invention the handle is a stout or oversized handle which is larger in its transverse direction than the transverse dimension of the head. Preferably, the handle has front and rear surfaces which curve outwardly away from each other to create the stout appearance. The amount of material used in making the handle, however, is minimized by forming at least one channel which extends from at least one surface of the handle. That surface preferably is a front and/or a rear surface, but could also be a side surface in addition to or instead of a channel on the front and/or rear surface. In its broad practice the toothbrush could include the flexible neck feature without the stout handle, particularly a stout handle having at least one channel or could be practiced where the material reduction is made by having at least a portion of the handle contain a void. Such void could be completely enclosed (such as in the power toothbrush) or could be exposed to an outer surface thereby forming the channel.
Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US5146645 *Mar 1, 1991Sep 15, 1992The Procter & Gamble CompanyToothbrush employing resiliently buckling arch to indicate excessive brushing pressure
USD360761 *Dec 9, 1992Aug 1, 1995Colgate-Palmolive CompanyToothbrush
USD360981 *Nov 17, 1992Aug 8, 1995Colgate-Palmolive CompanyToothbrush
USD373363 *Nov 18, 1994Sep 3, 1996Smc Kabushiki KaishaAir cylinder with a slide table
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7334286 *Aug 18, 2004Feb 26, 2008Loops, LlcToothbrush and methods of making and using same
US7934284Feb 11, 2003May 3, 2011Braun GmbhToothbrushes
US7958589Jun 12, 2009Jun 14, 2011The Gillette CompanyToothbrushes
US8448285Nov 27, 2006May 28, 2013Loops, LlcToothbrush and methods of making and using same
US8505557 *Mar 29, 2011Aug 13, 2013Charles Louis UrsoPowered dental cleaner
US8561248Aug 25, 2011Oct 22, 2013King Saud UniversityFlexible, ergonomic toothbrush with replaceable bristles
US8671497Jul 13, 2011Mar 18, 2014Mordechai KirshToothbrush
US8695149Apr 1, 2011Apr 15, 2014Braun GmbhToothbrushes
US8863345Dec 18, 2009Oct 21, 2014Colgate-Palmolive CompanyOral care implement having a closed-loop arrangement of cleaning elements
US9066583 *Jan 12, 2007Jun 30, 2015Loops LlcPackaged toothbrush and toothbrush container and methods of making same
US20060037160 *Aug 18, 2004Feb 23, 2006Kayser Steven LToothbrush and methods of making and using same
US20070119736 *Jan 12, 2007May 31, 2007Loops, LlcPackaged toothbrush and toothbrush container and methods of making same
US20070226931 *Nov 27, 2006Oct 4, 2007Kayser Steven LToothbrush and methods of making and using same
US20120291212 *May 16, 2012Nov 22, 2012Montagnino James GResonant vibration-enhancing cleaning attachment for an ultrasonic powered handle
USD632484Dec 18, 2009Feb 15, 2011Eduardo JimenezToothbrush handle with tissue cleaner
USD654270Dec 18, 2009Feb 21, 2012Colgate-Palmolive CompanyToothbrush handle
USD654695Dec 18, 2009Feb 28, 2012Colgate-Palmolive CompanyToothbrush
USD654696Dec 18, 2009Feb 28, 2012Colgate-Palmolive CompanyToothbrush handle with tissue cleaner
USD669688Jan 25, 2012Oct 30, 2012Colgate-Palmolive CompanyHead portion of a toothbrush
USD669689Jan 25, 2012Oct 30, 2012Colgate-Palmolive CompanyToothbrush handle with tissue cleaner
USD670503Jan 25, 2012Nov 13, 2012Colgate-Palmolive CompanyHead portion of a toothbrush
USD670505Jan 25, 2012Nov 13, 2012Colgate-Palmolive CompanyToothbrush handle with tissue cleaner
USD671326Jan 25, 2012Nov 27, 2012Colgate-Palmolive CompanyToothbrush handle
USD675830Dec 18, 2009Feb 12, 2013Colgate-Palmolive CompanyToothbrush
USD775838 *Jan 5, 2015Jan 10, 2017Joann M. LawsToothbrush
DE102005055044A1 *Nov 16, 2005May 24, 2007Wilden Handels AgToothbrush, comprises grip section and head section, at which bristle trim is attached and cavity is formed in grip section, which has opening, which is overstretched and locked by means of flexible closure part
DE102006002332A1 *Jan 18, 2006Jul 19, 2007Synpart AgToothbrush e.g. for cleaning teeth, has grasp and brush head made from plastic and brush head has bristles and two divided mobile head segments
WO2007025752A1 *Aug 29, 2006Mar 8, 2007Glaxosmithkline Consumer Healthcare Gmbh & Co KgToothbrush
Classifications
U.S. Classification15/167.1
International ClassificationA46B5/00, A46B15/00
Cooperative ClassificationA46B5/007, A46B2200/1066, A46B5/0062, A46B15/0002
European ClassificationA46B5/00B6B4, A46B15/00B, A46B5/00B6B
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
May 1, 2003ASAssignment
Owner name: COLGATE-PALMOLIVE COMPANY, NEW YORK
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:JIMENEZ, EDUARDO;REEL/FRAME:014036/0539
Effective date: 20030501