US 20090044357 A1
A toothbrush has a handle and a head attached to the handle. The head has a top face and a bottom face, wherein the top face comprises a plurality of cleaning members and the bottom face comprises an elastomeric surface. The elastomeric surface forms a hill and wherein the hill comprises a plurality of protrusions.
1. A toothbrush comprising:
a handle; and
a head attached to the handle having a top face and a bottom face, wherein the top face comprises a plurality of cleaning members and the bottom face comprises an elastomeric surface, and
wherein the elastomeric surface forms a hill and wherein the hill comprises a plurality of protrusions.
2. The toothbrush of
3. The toothbrush of
4. The toothbrush of
5. The toothbrush of
6. The toothbrush of
7. The toothbrush of
8. The toothbrush of
9. The toothbrush of
10. The toothbrush of
The application is a continuation of U.S. Patent Application Publication 2005/0000043, filed on Apr. 16, 2004, which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/464,787, filed Apr. 23, 2003, each of which is incorporated herein by reference.
The present invention relates to the field of toothbrushes, and more particularly, the invention relates to the field of electrically powered toothbrushes.
Most known electric toothbrushes utilize a single bristle carrier that is powered or otherwise driven by an electric motor incorporated in the toothbrush. The bristle carriers in these toothbrushes generally undergo rotary motion. Although satisfactory in certain respects, a need still exists for an improved powered toothbrush design.
Numerous attempts have been made to improve the design, efficiency, cleaning efficacy, simplicity, and/or commercial viability of electric toothbrushes. One approach has been the provision of multiple powered bristle carriers. Most artisans have grouped multiple sets of bristles along an end of a brush and incorporated a drive mechanism for simultaneously rotating each of the bristle sets, together. Exemplary designs include those disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,242,516; 4,156,620; 4,845,795; 5,088,145; 5,020,179; 4,827,550; and 4,545,087.
A related strategy is to group sets of bristles on multiple rotating bristle carriers, as disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,140,307 and 5,170,525. Rather than rotating each individual bristle set about its center, i.e. the approach adopted in the previously noted patents, the designs described in the '307 and '525 patents rotate multiple groups of bristle sets about the center of a bristle carrier. Specifically, multiple groups of bristle sets are disposed on a circular bristle carrier and that bristle carrier, typically one of several, is rotated about its own axis.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,070,567 describes a design combining the two previously noted strategies. A rotating bristle carrier is provided along with multiple individually rotatable bristle sets. Although this design likely provides many of the advantages associated with each of its predecessors, the cleaning efficacy of spinning bristle sets, alone, is somewhat limited.
Yet another design is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,617,603. The '603 patent describes an assembly of “staggered swing” brushes. Apparently, the two bristle carriers move along a complex path within the plane of the toothbrush.
Although dual bristle carriers that undergo various combinations of movement have been disclosed in the prior art, there remains a need to provide an electric toothbrush with a plurality of bristle carriers in which at least one carrier undergoes a reciprocating or pivotal type of motion. Additionally, there is a need to provide an electric toothbrush with multiple bristle carriers in which at least one of the carriers reciprocates while another component of the brush undergoes a particular type of motion that assists in the brushing operations.
In some embodiments of the present invention, a toothbrush has a handle and a head attached to the handle. The head has a top face and a bottom face, wherein the top face comprises a plurality of cleaning members and the bottom lace comprises an elastomeric surface. The elastomeric surface forms a hill and wherein the hill comprises a plurality of protrusions.
The present invention may take form in various components and arrangements of components, and in various techniques, methods, or procedures and arrangements of steps. The referenced drawings are only for purposes of illustrating preferred embodiments, they are not necessarily to scale, and are not to be construed as limiting the present invention.
It is believed that the present invention will be better understood from the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:
Before describing the various preferred embodiments, it is instructive to define the various types of motions that the movable bristles of the various toothbrushes may undergo. As used herein, the term “angular motion” refers to any angular displacement. “Linear motion” is movement along a straight or substantially straight, line or direction. “Curvilinear motion” is movement that is neither completely linear nor completely angular but is a combination of the two (e.g., curvilinear). These motions can be constant or periodic. Constant motion refers to motion that does not change direction or path (i.e., is unidirectional). Periodic motion refers to motion that reverses direction or path. Constant angular motion is referred to as rotary motion, although features herein may be described as “rotatably mounted” which is intended to merely mean that angular motion, whether periodic or constant, is possible. Periodic angular motion is referred to as oscillating motion. Curvilinear motions can also be either constant (i.e., unidirectional) or periodic (i.e., reverses direction). Periodic linear motion is referred to as “reciprocation”. “Orbital motion” is a type of angular motion about an axis that is distinct from and is some distance apart from the center of the moving component, e.g. a shaft. This distance is referred to herein as the extent of offset of the orbital motion. Orbital motion may be either constant angular motion or periodic angular motion.
The above-described motions can occur along one or more axes of a bristle carrier, a toothbrush, a toothbrush head, etc. Accordingly, motion is described herein as being either one, two, or three dimensional motion depending upon the number of axial coordinates required to describe the position of a bristle carrier during its movement. The axes, X, Y, and Z, are shown in
Since most of the bristle carrier motions described herein can be modified by adjusting various structural features, the description of a motion herein shall be automatically understood to accommodate these variations. For example, a motion that is described as oscillating about an axis can also include components of other motions (e.g., a reciprocating linear motion), especially where it is noted that modifications can be made to provide this second component of motion. Motions that are intended to exclude such modifications shall be described herein with the modifier “primarily” (e.g., “primarily oscillating” or “primarily reciprocating”) and are intended to exclude significant other types motion, but not other motions that might be incidental from manufacturing tolerances or variabilities or where it is difficult to completely eliminate another type of motion completely from the bristle carrier, as is sometimes the case. All motions described herein may be restricted to primarily the motion described if desired.
The X axis is generally referred to herein as the longitudinal axis and generally extends along a longitudinal or lengthwise dimension (as seen from the top planar view of the toothbrush) of the toothbrush head or the bristle carrier. For example, a longitudinal axis is an axis passing through the longest dimension of the toothbrush head. The Y axis is transverse, orthogonal or perpendicular to the X axis and generally bisects the toothbrush head into its left and right halves. The Z axis is transverse, orthogonal or perpendicular to the X and Y axes. It will be appreciated that axis orientations need not be exactly orthogonal or perpendicular to another axis and that some deviation from 90 degrees between the axes, particularly when these axes are used to describe a direction of motion. It should be understood that any axis orientation herein can be modified by the terms “generally” or “substantially” (e.g., “generally transverse” or “substantially transverse”). The word “substantially” implies some angular deviation, but not as much angular deviation from 90 degrees as the word “generally”. No modifier indicates slight to no deviation from 90 degrees. Thus, a motion that is described as occurring along a first axis transverse to a second axis implies that the motion occurs at a 90 degree angle to the second axis with some slight deviation permitted (e.g., from manufacturing tolerances, etc.). If the motion is generally transverse or substantially transverse, a greater deviation from 90 degrees is contemplated. All the axes described herein can intersect another axis either generally or substantially transverse to said other axis.
Plane X contains the X axis and is generally referred to herein as the plane of the toothbrush or the plane of the toothbrush head. This plane generally extends along the longitudinal dimension of the toothbrush. The Y plane contains the Y axis and extends through the toothbrush and is perpendicular to the X plane. The Y plane either bisects the toothbrush or is parallel to a plane that does. The Z plane is perpendicular to both the X plane and the Y plane and contains the Z axis.
Furthermore, it is useful to address the terminology used in describing the preferred embodiment toothbrushes, bristle carriers, and the various drive mechanisms. As used herein, the term “forward” refers to the direction from the handle to the head while the term “rearward” refers to the direction from the head to the handle. A longitudinal direction is a direction that generally corresponds to a longitudinal or X axis but which may not lie in the same plane as the axis. For example, the longitudinal axes of a shaft and a bristle carrier may not extend in the same plane but generally extend in the same direction from a top planar view. Similarly, a neck and head that are angled with respect to each other may not have longitudinal axes that extend in the same plane, but do have axes that extend in the same general longitudinal direction from a top planar view. Many of the preferred embodiment electric toothbrushes typically have an elongated head with a longitudinal axis passing through the longest dimension thereof. This axis typically extends in the same general direction as the longitudinal axes of the toothbrush neck and/or shaft. This axis is generally referred to as the longitudinal axis of the toothbrush. By the phrase “same general direction,” some angular deviation is contemplated between the axes.
Generally, the preferred embodiment toothbrushes according to the present invention comprise an elongated hollow body containing an electrically powered motor and drive mechanism that is used to drive one, two, three or more moveable bristle carriers. The elongated hollow body also includes an interior chamber or cavity for containing one or more batteries for powering the motor. And, one or more switches are provided along the outer region of the body for activating the motor and drive mechanism. As will be appreciated, a removable end cap is provided to enclose the interior chamber and provide a seal against external agents for the components inside the toothbrush body. As described in detail herein, the preferred embodiment toothbrushes comprise one, two, three or more movable bristle carriers. Each of the bristle carriers undergoes particular types of motion and the resulting combinations of movements provide unique cleaning efficacy.
Furthermore, it is useful to define the terms “fixed” or “static” bristles, and the term “movable” bristles. The terms fixed or static bristles refer to bristles that are secured or affixed to the brush head or body of the toothbrush or other component thereof so that the bristles, and specifically, the base of the bristles, do not move with regard to the longitudinal axis of the toothbrush. Restated, fixed or static bristles refer to bristles that are affixed to the toothbrush such that their base or point of attachment does not move with respect to the toothbrush. It is recognized that the tips or regions distal from the base of a bristle or group of bristles may move as a result of flexing of the bristle. However, the base of a stationary, static, or fixed bristle does not move with respect to the brush. The term movable bristle refers to a bristle in which the base of the bristle moves with respect to the toothbrush, and particularly with respect to the longitudinal axis of the brush. Generally, this configuration is accomplished by affixing or supporting the base of the bristle to a mounting component, i.e. a bristle carrier or holder, that is movable with respect to the brush. Restated, a movable bristle is a bristle that is movable with respect to the longitudinal axis of the brush.
In a most preferred aspect, a rocking arm 321 is utilized that extends between the first and second bristle carriers 360 and 370. Most preferably, the rocking arm 321 is hinged about its center to a stationary member within the interior of the brush head 350 such that the arm 321 may move or pivot about that member. An end of the linking arm 320 is engaged to an end of the rocking arm 321 such that reciprocation of the linking arm 320 causes pivoting of the arm 321 about its center. As shown in
The preferred embodiment toothbrush 400 of
The toothbrush 500 provides a massaging plate 580 similar to the toothbrush 400 previously described. However, the massaging plate 580 of the toothbrush 500 does not reciprocate as does the massaging plate 480 of the toothbrush 400. This is described in greater detail herein. The massaging plate 580 is preferably formed from an elastomeric or other suitable material. The plate 580 is preferably disposed along a rearward face of the toothbrush head 550 and secured thereto. The plate 580 may be provided with a variety of different surface configurations.
It will be appreciated that in all of the embodiments of the present invention, one or more groups of static bristles or other cleaning members may be provided in conjunction with the moving bristles. It may, in many instances, be preferred to provide a collection of static bristles on the toothbrush head. For example, static bristles may be disposed in a gap between bristle carriers or may completely encircle the bristle carriers. Static bristles may also be disposed at the distal-most end of the head and/or at the rearward-most portion of the head and/or adjacent the sides of the toothbrush head. Further examples of static bristles that may be used with the present invention are described in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/274,40 and U.S. Pat. No. 6,360,395. Moving or static elastomeric bristles, formed for example from a thermoplastic elastomer or rubber, can also be provided on the moving bristle carriers or the toothbrush head. An example of one arrangement is described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,371,294.
While brush head embodiments of the present invention have been illustrated for simplicity with tufts of bristles that extend in a direction substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the head from which they extend, it is contemplated that the static and/or movable bristles might be arranged differently to compliment or further enhance the static bristles or the motion of the movable bristles. Some or all of the bristles might extend in a direction that forms an acute angle with a top surface of a bristle holder and may extend in a forward or rearward direction. In another embodiment, some of the bristles might extend outwardly away from the head, in another direction, again :forming an acute angle with respect to the top surface of the bristle holder. Examples of other suitable bristle arrangements are described in U.S. Pat. Nos. Des. 330,286, Des. 434,563; 6,006,394; 4,081,876; 5,046,213; 5,335,389; 5,392,483; 5,446,940; 4,894,880; and International Publication No. WO99/23910.
The toothbrushes of the present invention may be formed from a wide array of polymers. In the following description of the preferred polymer materials for use herein, the abbreviations that are commonly used by those of skill in the art to refer to certain polymers appear in parentheses following the full names of the polymers. The polymer is preferably polypropylene (“PP”), or may be selected from the group consisting of other commercially available materials, such as polystyrene (“PS”), polyethylene (“PE”), acrylonitrile-styrene copolymer (“SAN”), and cellulose acetate propionate (“CAP”). These materials may be blended with one or more additional polymers including a thermoplastic elastomer (“TPE”), a thermoplastic olefin (“TPO”), a soft thermoplastic polyolefin (e.g., polybutylene), or may be selected from other elastomeric materials, such as etheylene-vinylacetate copolymer (“EVA”), and ethylene propylene rubber (“EPR”). Examples of suitable thermoplastic elastomers herein include styrene-ethylene-butadiene-styrene (“SEBS”), styrene-butadiene-styrene (“SBS”), and styrene-isoprene-styrene (“SIS”). Examples of suitable thermoplastic olefins herein include polybutylene (“PB”), and polyethylene (“PE”). Techniques known to those of skill in the art, such as injection molding, can be used to manufacture the toothbrush of the present invention.
The present invention has been described with reference to particular preferred embodiments. Modifications and alterations may be made to these embodiments within the scope of the present invention. For example, certain combinations of bristle carriers have been described herein. It will be appreciated that the bristle carriers can be rearranged and the bristle carrier of one embodiment substituted for that of another. Further, while some bristle carriers may have a slot that engages a pin on the toothbrush head to guide the movement of the bristle carrier, it will be appreciated that these features can be reversed so that the pin is disposed on the bristle carrier and the slot is disposed on the head, and further that other structures known in the art can be used to guide the motion of any of the bristle carriers described herein. It is intended that all such modifications and alterations are included insofar as they come within the scope of the appended claims or equivalents thereof.
All documents cited in the Detailed Description of the Invention are, in relevant part, incorporated herein by reference; the citation of any document is not to be construed as an admission that it is prior art with respect to the present invention.
While particular embodiments of the present invention have been illustrated and described, it would be obvious to those skilled in the art that various other changes and modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. It is therefore intended to cover in the appended claims all such changes and modifications that are within the scope of this invention.