US 2589504 A
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March 1952 o. s. MILLER PROTECTOR FOR THE LIPS AND TEETH Filed June 24, 1950 INVENTOR OLIVE/i Scorr Muzz e %M ATTORNEY Patented Mar. 18, 1952 PROTECTOR FOR THE LIPS AND TEETH Oliver Scott Miller, Long Beach, Calif., assignor, by direct and mesne assignments, to Mill-Mont Company, Los Angeles, Calif., a limited partnership of California Application June 24, 1950, Serial No. 170,223
This invention relates to an improved mouth protector or guard for the lips and teeth and is designed to be worn attached to the chinstrap of a football helmet or other protective head cover- The main object of this invention is to provide protection for the lips and teeth of a football player or other sports participant without im-v pairing the vision of the wearer and without interfering with his breathing. A further object of the invention is to provide such protection when it is needed and also enable the wearer to easily dispense with the protector when its services are no longer required, yet without danger that the protection will be lost. A further object of the invention is to provide a protective device for the mouth which cannot be swallowed nor forced into or become lodged in the players throat should be receive a blow on the mouth or be knocked unconscious.
Heretofore various devices have been used for protective purposes on football helmets and the like but these have been generally dissatisfactory for various reasons. Protectors made of metal rods with a thin covering of rubber have been built out from the helmet, but these devices have been cumbersome and unwieldy, and have constantly interfered with the players vision. Such devices have also been unpopular because of the likelihood that the wearer might injure others through the hard, relatively angular projections.
Other protectors have been attached to the helmet at their upper end only and held in place by the grip of the wearers teeth on the bottom portions. These devices also interfered with the wearers vision. Moreover, since they were sup- 'ported by the teeth, whether the back or front teeth, they ofiered no protection thereto, and in fact they only increased the likelihood that the wearers teeth would be injured for much of the shock received on contact was transmitted directly to the teeth.
Protective devices internal to the mouth have been used in certain sports such as boxing, but these interfere too greatly with breathing for sustained use in a continuous and active sport, such as football. Also, there is too much danger that such a device would be swallowed as a result of hard bodily contact or forced into the throat and lodged there to choke the player.
My invention overcomes all these defects of the prior art and provides adequate protection for the lips and teeth without interfering with the vision or breathing of the wearer and without any risk of being swallowed by or lodged in the throat. ofv
the wearer. In fact, should the wearer be knocked unconscious the device will be automatically ejected from his mouth. 7
The objects and advantages of my invention will be fully comprehended from a reading of the following description of the appended drawings, wherein, for the purpose of illustration, a preferred embodiment of the invention is shown, and in which like reference numerals are employed to indicate corresponding parts in the drawings:
Fig. 1 is a front elevational view of the mouthpiece in place with the wearers nose and facial outline shown in dotted lines.
Fig. 2 is a cross sectional view taken alongline 22 of Fig. 1 showing the mouthpiece in place with the wearers nose, lips, teeth and chin shown in dotted lines.
Fig. 3 is a cross sectional view taken along line 3-3 of Fig. 2 with the corners of the wearers mouth and a portion of his cheeks shown in dotted terproof, soft, cushioning material and which I prefer to make of sponge or foam rubber.
This mouthpiece I has an outer flattened labial I portion 2 molded or curved to fit over the outside of the wearers lips and the areas adjacent the corners of the mouth, thereby protecting the same. This flattened portion 2 is generally in the shape of an oval ring as shown in Fig. 1, and is about one-half an inch or so across from its inner to its outer perimeter. Depending inwardly from the inner perimeter 3 of thisflattened labial portion 2 is a central wall area 4, as can be seen moreparticularly in Fig. 2. This wall area 4 extends into the mouth sufiiciently to project past the lips and behind the front teeth where it is expanded into abutment areas I and 8 as shown in Fig. 2. These abutments I and 8 are adapted to bear upon the back of the upper and lower front teeth, respectively, thereby retaining the mouthpiece in position when the wearers mouth is closed or partially closed. The wall area 4 is formed to providea passage to permit oral breathing, and as can be seen in Fig. 2, this passage tapers vertically from a larger cross-section at 3 to a smaller cross-section at inner end area 9 of the mouthpiece. Passages IO are formed at this inner end 9. As it is the purpose of these passages l0 purposes. to an ordinary sliding grip H, the wearer may readily adjust the operating length of strip I2 to permit the wearer to breathe through his mouth while the mouthpiece I is in place, these its usual position beneath the: rear area of the mouthpiece.
The sides of the inner wall portion 4 are curved to fit around the corners of the mouth as can be seen in Fig. 3 and are thereafter expanded as at H to bear against the inner portions of the cheeks adjacent the corners of the mouth, thereby providing additional assistance in retaining the mouthpiece in the mouth.
The inner portion 9 of the mouthpiece after the lower. abutment portions 8 may be shaped generally as in Fig. 2. In this View it can be seen .that the inner portion ofthe device past the lower abutment 8' isshaped to provide for the retention of the tongue in its natural position at the bottom of the mouth.
Dependingfrom the bottom portion of the flattened frontal area 2 is a strip l2 of soft material such. as rubber' or cloth. The other end of this stripl2 is attached to the chinstrap l4 of a helmet. This strip is adjusted to be under very slight tension when the mouthpiece is inserted in the player's mouth, and this tension .is-sufficient to cause the automatic ejection of themouthpiece shouldthe player be knocked unconscious and the jaws relax. Of course, as the jaws relax and the mouth opens, the chin naturally moves downward and such motion actually pulls the mouthpiece from the mouth of the wearer. The strip l2 may be permanently secured to both mouthpiece and chinstrap, or
permanently secured to one and detachably secured to the other, or detachably secured to both. I prefer to have the strip i2 permanently secured to the mouthpiece l as in Figs. 1 and 2 by rubber cement or vulcanization v and detachably secured by a snap IE, or other means, to the" chinstrap.
This permits easy detachment of the mouthpiece for cleansing Moreover, by having snap l6 secured and so its tension to suit his individual needs and preferences.
, breathing during. most of the game when the mouthpiece is not worn and actually, because of its construction, almost no such interference or atmost very little while the mouthpiece is worn.
- Also the player may. easily eject the mouthpiece without using his hands by merely opening his mouth as soon as the likelihood of body contact -is.over.for him, as for example when the i play has gone past a line man, or when a backfield-man has performed his block in football. or course, a ball carrier would retain his mouth 4 piece in place until tackled or in the clear. If a player is knocked unconscious, it is impossible for the mouthpiece to become lodged in his throat. This is prevented by both the strip l2 and also the widened lip protecting portion 2. Actually slight tension of strip l2, the relaxation of the jaws and the'slightopening of the mouth which is usually attendant with unconsciousness in strenuous sports such as football will automatically eject the mouthpiece in such instances. It will be noted that upon ejection the mouthpiece will fall outward and downward and so will not interfere with either vision orbreathing." Furthermore, since the strip l2 isrelatively short, the mouthpiece will general- 13 dangle in the air and will not brush against the playersuniform, from which, being moist, it might pick up bits of grass or sand. This is an added advantage since it is desirable that the mouthpiece pick up as little as possible of such objectionable foreign matter so distasteful to the mouth, for thepresence of this material would create a tendency on the part of the player to dispense with the use of the mouthpiece and the desirable protection it affords.
Incertain sports or activities it may be desirable to use the mouthpiece portion of my-invention alone without strip I2 being present and without attaching the mouthpiece to a chinstrapv or other means. This is perfectly feasible for as can be seen the mouthpiece is designed in" such a way that it will remain in operating position in the mouth under all but most unusual circumstances. As long as the wearer keeps his mouth in a partially closed position, the abutments/l and 8 prevent the mouthpiece from-slipping outof the .mouth. The labial porti'on 2 will keep the mouthpiece fromv moving further into the mouth and, if desired, this flattened labial portion 2. can beextended to cover moreof .theface than the particular areas shownin this preferred form, thereby making it even more diflicult for the mouthpiece to be forced into the mouth.
Amodified form of the invention is shown in Fig. 4. In this form the lower abutment 8 is omitted, for it has been found that one abutment bearing against the rear of either the upper'or lower teeth is sufiicient to retain the mouthpiece in operative position. Also this modified form shows only air passages l0 running horizontally, for as has been stated earlier, it is not absolutely necessary that additional passages running diagonally upwards be provi ded.
A further modification of the invention is illustrated in. Fig. 5. Here the abutments II which bear against the cheeks adjacent the corners of the mouth have been omitted and the mouthpiece is shown projecting into the mouth in substantially straight lines. Also, instead of having a plurality of air passages at the inner end of the mouthpiece, there is only one large passage. It has been found that this somewhat simpler construction substantially provides the desired beneficial results and is easier and more economical to manufacture.
Although there is shown and described herein a preferred embodiment of the invention, it is to be understood that it is not desired to limit the application of the invention thereto except as may be required by the scope of the subjoined claims, and various structural modifications are possible without, however, departing from the spirit of my invention.
Having described the invention, what I claim is:
1. A protector for the lips and teeth comprising an integral mouthpiece having an outer portion jshaped to fit the external contours of the lips and corners of the mouth and cover the exterior i's'urface of the same when in operative position, ,an inner portion projecting into the mouth and having abutments behind the front teeth and shaped to extend vertically behind said front :teeth when in operative position, said abutments "i'bearing against the rear of the front teeth when "the mouth is in a partially closed position, all
parts of said protector being formed of soft resilient material, said protector being formed to 1 provide a central passage therethrough, and "flexible means for securing said mouthpiece to fan anchorage remote from the mouth.
2. A protector for the lips and teeth for use in combination with a chinstrap of a helmet comprising a mouthpiece of soft resilient material having a portion external to the mouth when in operative position and shaped to fitthe of the front teeth when the mouth is in a partially closed position, a central passage extending through said mouthpiece and a strap depending from the said external portion of the mouthpiece for detachably and adjustably securing said mouthpiece to the chinstrap of a helmet.
3. A protector for the lips and teeth comprising a mouthpiece of soft resilient material hav ing, when in operative position, portions external and internal to the mouth, said portions external to the mouth extending over the lips, abutments on said portion internal to the mouth and positioned to bear against the front teeth when the mouth is partially opened, an anchorage removed from said mouthpiece and from the mouth, and
flexible means for detachably securing "said mouthpiece to said anchorage under tension.
4. A mouthpiece of soft resilient material comprising when in operative position a portion'external to the mouth extending over the lips and a portion projecting therefrom into the mouth past the front teeth and being provided with an abutment projecting vertically behind the upper 5. A protective guard for the mouth, lips and teeth for use in combination with the chin strap of a helmet, said protective guard being of soft resilient material and comprising an outer and inner portion relative to the mouth when said protective guard is in operative position, said outer portion being shaped to conform to and cover the lips and the areas of the face adjacent to the lips and corners of the mouth, said inner portion projecting from said outer l portion inwardly into the mouth and past the front teeth and being provided with an abutment portion projecting vertically behind the upper front teeth and bearing against the same when; the mouth is partially closed, a' passage through said protective guard to permit oral breathing, and relatively short strap means depending from said outer portion for adjustably and detachably securing said protective guard under slight tension to the chin strap of a helmet when said protective guard is in operative position.
6. A protective guard for the mouth, lips and teeth for use in combination with the chin strap of a helmet, said protective guard being of soft resilient material and comprising an outer and inner portion relative to the mouth when said protective guard is in operative position, said outer portion being shaped to conform to and cover the lips and the areas of the face adjacent to the lips and corners of the mouth, said inner portion projecting from said outer portion inwardly into the mouth and past the front teeth and being provided with an abutment portion projecting vertically behind the front teeth and bearing against the same to prevent said guard from being withdrawn from the mouth when the mouth is partially open and said guard is under slight tension in a direction away from the mouth, a passage through said protective guard to permit oral breathing, and relatively short strap means depending from said outer portion for adjustably and detachably securing said protective guard under slight tension to the chin strap of a helmet when said protective guard is in operative position.
OLIVER SCOTT MILLER.
REFERENCES CI TED The following references are of record in the file of this patent:
UNITED STATES PATENTS Number Name Date 2,521,039 Carpenter Sept. 5, 1950 FOREIGN PATENTS Number Country Date 24,867 Great Britain of 1800