US 20040084058 A1
An oral hygiene device having an integrally formed, elongate member with opposed first and second ends. The member including first and second handle portions defined near the first and second ends of the member, respectively, a scraping portion defined between the first and second handle portions and having a generally arc-shaped cross-section defining a longitudinally extending, concave channel along the member between the first and second handle portions, a spoon defined at the first end and inclined relative to a longitudinal axis of the member, and a generally rectangular blunt fine edge defined at the second end.
1. An oral hygiene device comprising:
an integrally formed, single-body elongate member having opposed first and second ends, said member including:
first and second handle portions defined near said first and second ends of said member, respectively;
a scraping portion defined between said first and second handle portions and having a generally arc-shaped cross-section defining a longitudinally extending, concave channel along said member between said first and second handle portions;
a spoon defined at said first end and inclined relative to a longitudinal axis of said member, said spoon having first and second surfaces, wherein one of said surfaces is concave and another one of said surfaces is convex; and
a generally rectangular blunt fine edge defined at said second end.
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6. The oral hygiene device according to claims 4 or 5 wherein said brushing element is selected from a group consisting of bound cotton, synthetic fibers and masses of foams.
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 1. Field of the Invention
 The present invention relates to oral hygiene devices, and more particularly to a disposable, single body universal oral care product having multiple functions for promoting oral health.
 2. Description of the Prior Art
 It is well known that undesirable materials such as plaque, tartar, bacteria, food debris and other microorganisms live or accumulate in the mouth, in particular on the teeth and the tongue. For this reason, most people use some type of method to maintain proper oral health.
 Brushing teeth with a toothbrush and toothpaste is an effective method used to remove plaque from the surfaces of teeth. Nonetheless, conventional brushes do not always sufficiently reach the gaps between teeth where plaque often builds. In order to overcome the shortcomings of toothbrushes, flossing is recommended, in combination with toothbrushes, to remove plaque accumulating between the teeth.
 It has been discovered that halitosis or bad breath is often the result of a buildup of plaque, tartar, food debris, bacteria and other materials on the tongue. Brushing and flossing teeth are not successful in removing all of the plaque, tartar and bacteria from the entire mouth cavity since they are limited to cleaning teeth. Accordingly, the tongue is often overlooked as an area to clean in the mouth. Although a toothbrush could be used to clean the tongue, the toothbrush is not well-suited for the removal of plaque on the tongue since the bristles of the toothbrush are often too soft and flexible to remove the buildup of plaque on the tongue. Generally, in order to effectively clean the tongue, a tongue scraper having a working edge is recommended.
 Many individuals use gum, breath mints, and other products to freshen their mouth, and thus their breath. These products are often a convenient, short term way to address the odor of the aforementioned build-up of undesirable materials in the mouth. These products, however, only temporarily cover up the problem of bad breath, and the accumulation of the aforementioned materials still persists even when these short term products are used.
 When away from home, especially in conjunction with and subsequent to meals eaten away from home, most individuals fail to clean their mouth. Brushing one's teeth in public is not socially acceptable. Furthermore, it is often difficult to obtain sufficient privacy and an appropriate water source to brush one's teeth when dining away from home. Flossing is also difficult to perform when away from home and is also not socially acceptable in public. Furthermore, it is also undesirable to carry numerous utensils on one's body such a tongue scraper, a toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss when away from home.
 Gum, breath mints, and other products, although socially acceptable, are often used to control only the effects of bad breath after meals. Toothpicks are also socially acceptable and can be used as a dental cleaning device. Toothpicks are helpful in removing large pieces of food from the gaps of one's teeth, however they are inadequate in plaque removal of both the teeth and tongue, and further fail to control bad breath.
 Many efforts have been made to provide an oral hygiene device providing means to remove plaque, tartar, bacteria and microorganisms from teeth and the tongue. Some efforts include U.S. Pat. No. 5,980,541 which describes a device for scraping or cleaning a tongue in combination with a toothbrush. This device, however, is not disposable and requires cleaning after each use. U.S. Pat. No. 5,735,864 relates to a disposable tongue scraper having a handle, an abrasive, texture surface, an absorbent material and a flavored medicament. Nonetheless, this invention does not include elements to clean the teeth and furthermore, due to its inherent shape and abrasive texture, it may provide for discomfort during usage. U.S. Pat. No. 5,253,661 describes a tooth scraping implement having a scoop end with a rounded rectangular shape. The handle serves as a holder for a supply of dental floss, yet there is no mention of the handle being used as a tongue scraper.
 The underlying objective of the present invention is to provide an improvement over known types of oral hygiene devices and introduce a multi-function oral hygiene device that can be used to remove plaque and tartar from surfaces of teeth and can further be used to scrape a tongue to remove materials encrusted thereon. The device is produced to be easily disposable after use, therefore eliminating cumbersome cleaning and transportation of such device. The device further includes the advantage of not requiring bathroom use and can be easily implemented away from home, before or after meals. Furthermore, the device is compact and it can be used publicly without making much noise or causing an unsightly appearance.
 The objective of the present invention is inventively achieved by providing an integrally formed, elongate member having opposed first and second ends, and first and second handle portions defined near the first and second ends thereof, a scraping portion defined between the first and second handle portions and having a generally arc-shaped cross-section defining a longitudinally extending, concave channel along the member between the first and second handle portions, a spoon defined at the first end and inclined relative to a longitudinal axis of the member, and a generally rectangular blunt or spade defined at the second end.
 The spoon defined at the first end is covered with bound cotton coated with powder tooth paste to remove plaque and stains easily and comfortably without the aid of a brush. The spade defined at the second end is shaped in a very thin curvature and is configured to penetrate gently between teeth cavities to dislodge and remove adherent material so as to be operable as a flossing device. The longitudinally extending concave channel is bendable and includes at least one working surface defined along an edge thereof for scraping a tongue when dragged thereacross so as to be operable as a tongue scraper. Accordingly, from the aforesaid features of the present invention, a multi-purpose oral hygiene device is achieved which provides brushing, flossing and tongue scraping capabilities.
 Materials selected to be used to manufacture the oral hygiene device of the present invention are inexpensive enough to make this device entirely disposable, such as bamboo or from a polymer. Such inexpensive materials permit economical mass production. Furthermore, the size of the device is of a general nature which easily permits being transported in one's pocket or purse and resembles that of a writing instrument when not in use.
 Various other objects, advantages, and features of the present invention will become readily apparent from the ensuing detailed description, and the novel features will be pointed out in the appended claims.
FIG. 1 is a plan view showing an oral hygiene device according to the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view showing the oral hygiene device of the present invention;
FIG. 3 is a partial perspective view showing the oral hygiene device, with at least one bent position shown in phantom; and
FIG. 4 is a perspective view showing the first end of the oral hygiene device wrapped with fibers impregnated with dental hygiene powders.
FIG. 1 illustrates an oral hygiene device comprising an integrally formed, elongate member 10 having first and second handle portions 8, 12 defined near first and second ends 18, 22. The member 10 includes a scraping portion defined between the first and second handle portions 8, 12 and has a generally arc-shaped cross-section defining a longitudinally extending, concave channel 14 along the member between the first and second handle portions 8, 12. The scraping portion also includes working surfaces 16 defined by the perimeter edge of the concave channel 14.
 The handle portions include grasping elements 30 that assist in providing a means for more easily gripping the device. Such grasping elements 30 may include grooves, differing textures, recesses or any other type of formation of the member 10 which would assist a user in obtaining a better grip of the member in comparison to the member without grasping elements. Furthermore, the grasping elements 30 may include rubberized or plastic pads, or the like, which would also assist in obtain a better grip of the member 10.
 The oral hygiene device is shown in FIG. 1 as including a spoon 20 defined at the first end 18 of the member 10. In briefly turning to FIG. 4, the spoon is covered with bound cotton 34 coated impregnated with a powder tooth paste so as to assist in removing plaque and stains easily and comfortably without the aid of a brush. While bound cotton 34 is a useful and available wiping or abrasive medium, other fibrous or porous yieldable absorbent and abrasive material can be substituted therewith. Therefore, the bound cotton 34 should preferably provide some abrasive qualities in order to function as a replacement for a toothbrush so as to remove material encrusted on teeth. Furthermore, in order to replace toothpaste, the powder tooth paste can be activated with saliva so as to not require the use of water.
 A rectangular blunt fine edge or spade 24 is defined at the second end 22 of the member 10. The spade 24 is configured to penetrate gently between teeth cavities to dislodge and remove adherent material so as to be operable as a flossing device. The spade 24 can also be configured with a brushing element impregnated with dental powders similar to the spoon 20 shown in FIG. 4.
FIG. 2 illustrates the shape of the spoon 20 as having an inclined neck 38 relative to a longitudinal axis of the member 10. The spoon 20 includes an inner, concave surface 42 and an outer, convex surface 36. The spade 24 is also illustrated as having an inclined neck 26 relative to a longitudinal axis of the member 10. The spade 24 includes an inner concave, surface 44 and an outer, convex surface 40. Although not shown, alternatively the spoon 20 or the spade 24 may not be inclined relative to the longitudinal axis of the member 10.
 An absorbent material 32 is positioned and retained within the concave channel 14. The absorbent material 32 can be made from any material or combination of materials which collect and retain debris, such as sponge, paper, cardboard, cloth, cotton, or any other relatively soft, absorbent materials. In addition, a medicament consisting of an antiseptic and/or a flavoring agent may be applied to the absorbent material.
FIG. 3 illustrates the member 10 shown in phantom lines in one of a plurality of bent positions whereby the member 10 is uniformly bent across its longitudinal axis. The member is fabricated from a sufficiently flexible resilient material such that the member assumes a straight shape but which can be bent to enable scraping of a tongue. In the embodiment presented herein, the member 10 is preferably made from bamboo. The Applicant has found that bamboo possess highly desirable qualities for a multi-purpose oral hygiene device. In particular, bamboo has a desirable flexibility and rigidity for the device to operate as a tongue scraper and as a brushing and flossing instrument. Furthermore, an oral hygiene device constructed from bamboo has been found to possess superior cleaning properties. The member 10, however, if desired, can be made of any other materials that can be bent slightly without fracturing, such as polypropylene, vinyl, nylon, rubber, various plasticized materials, cardboard, etc.
 It will of course be appreciated that the invention is not confined to the particular embodiments described herein, but is intended to embrace all possible variations which might be made to it without departing from either the scope or spirit of the invention as defined in the appended claims.