US 3106216 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Oct. 8", 1963 J. B. KIRBY mom CLEANING DEVICE Filed July 14, 1961 I P17. 5 d
INVENTOR James B.Kirb y whim I ATTORNEYS United States Patent ()1 3,106,216 TOOTH CLEANING DEVICE James B. Kirby, 3425 SE. 12th St., Pompano Beach, Fla. Filed July 14, 1961, Ser. No. 124,166 Claims. (Cl. 13292) This invention relates to tooth cleaning devices of the type employing a strand of dental floss held taut between spaced supporting members for insertion into the spaces between teeth.
The present invention provides means associated with the floss strand to assist in dislodging food particles from between the teeth and for massaging the gums and to provide a more eifective support for the floss strand.
For more effectively cleaning the spaces between the teeth and massaging the gums, flexible and elastic picks are attached to the spaced arms and are so positioned with respect to the floss strand that they are flexed with the strand during insertion of the strand between the teeth and are guided into spaces between the teeth adjacent the gums as the strand is moved back and forth between the teeth.
The picks have pointed inner ends of conical form and are preferably composed of relatively soft elastic material such as rubber so that they will not bruise the gums. The picks may also have a beneficial massaging action on the gums by manipulation of the floss holder while the picks are in engagement with the gums. The picks have wiping engagement with the teeth adjacent the gum level to provide superior cleaning action and to lessen abrasion of the floss strand by the rough surfaces of fillings adjacent the gum level. The picks also provide cushions for the floss strand on the supporting arms which eliminate sharp bends at the points of support and enable the taut floss strand to withstand greater deflecting pressure without rupture. The floss strands are positioned upon the outer ends of the supporting arms by means of slots extending across said outer ends that are alined with one another. The picks are preferably supported by means of sockets in the arms that open to the inner faces of the arms adjacent their outer ends and to the floss strand positioning slots. The picks have outer end portions that fit in the sockets and that form the bottom of the strand positioning slots. The inner portions of the picks project toward one another from the inner faces of the arms and taper toward their inner ends. The inner portions of the picks are preferably of conical form and are so disposed with respect to the arms that the outermost portions of the tapered face closely underlie the floss strands. The strands stretched across the space between the arms engage the outer portion of the picks that engage in the sockets and form the bottoms of the strand positioning slots. The floss strands stretched tight across the space between the arms, press into the elastic rubber picks so that the strands are held in alinement with the picks and, when flexed inwardly during insertion into spaces between the teeth, the strands press against the tapered portions of the picks as well as against the outer end portions, causing the picks to flex with the strand so that the points of the picks are guided by the strand into the spaces between the teeth when the strand is moved back and forth between the teeth.
In order to properly position the conical picks with respect to the floss strand, the axes of the pick holding sockets are substantially coplanar with the strand positioning slots and inclined outwardly with respect to a strand positioned in said slots at angles equal to the angles of taper of the picks, so that the outermost face portions of the cones are parallel to and closely underlie the floss strand.
Improved means are provided for fastening the floss 3,1062 1 6 Patented Oct. 8, 1 963 strand to the supporting arms and for delivering the floss strand from a floss container which also serves as a supporting handle.
Reference should be had to the accompanying drawings forming part of this specification in which:
FIGURE 1 is a side elevation of a tooth cleaning device embodying the invention;
FIG. 2 is an elevation of the device shown in FIG. 1 viewed as indicated at 2-2. in FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a perspective view showing the strand fastening and cutting means carried by one of the strand supports;
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the rubber pick on an enlarged scale;
FIG. 5 is a side elevation of a modified device embodying the invention; and
FIG. 6 is a side elevation of the device shown in FIG. 5 showing the device turned from the position shown in FIG. 5.
Referring to the accompanying drawings, FIGS. 1, 2 and 3 shows a tooth cleaning device which includes an elongated cylindrical floss container 1 which has as externally threaded open end portion 2. The container 1 serves as a handle for the device as well as a floss con- Itainer and carries a combined cap and floss strand support 3 that is internally threaded to screw on the open end 2 of the container and that has a cover portion 4 that engages the rim of the container 1 when the cap is screwed tight on the container '1. The container 1 and combined cap and holder 3 are preferably formed of a suitable plastic material. The cap 3 has integral spaced arms 5 and 6 which may extend from diametrically opposite portions thereof and that have oppositely facing end portions 7 and 8 that are spaced apart to provide supports for a floss strand stretched across the space between the arms. A strand of floss from the container 1 extends over the ends 7 and 18 of the arms which support the strand for insertion between teeth.
The internally threaded portion of the cap 3 is provided with an axial slot 9 that extends from its inner end adjacent the inner end of the arm 5. The floss strand extends from the interior of the container over the rim of the container 1 between said rim and the closure portion 4 of the cap to the slot 9 and into a groove 10 in the outer face of the arm 5 that extends from the slot 9 to a positioning slot 11 extending across the outer end 7 of the arm 5. A similar positioning slot 12 alined with the slot 11 extends across the outer end 8 of the arm 6 and a strand fastening cleat 13 is provided on the arm 6 inwardly of the positioning slot 12. The cleat 13 may be formed integrally with the arm 6 and has wedging slots 14 which have inner portions of less width than the thickness of the strand and which serve to anchor the free end of the strand when it is wrapped about the cleat 13.
Inwardly of the slots 11 and 12 the end portions '7 and 8 of the arms 5 and 6 are provided with sockets 16 opening to their inner faces and positioned beneath the positioning slots 11 and 12. The sockets 16 provide means for supporting flexible picks 17 which are preferably formed of elastic rubber. The picks 17 have outer portions 18 that fit in the sockets 116 and tapered inner portions 19 that underlie the floss strand extending across the space between the end portions 7 and 8 of the arms. The narrow strand positioning slots 11 and 12 open to the sockets 16 so that the floss strand stretched across the space between the end portions 7 and 8 of the arms engage with and are yieldably supported by the elastic rubber picks.
By loosening the combined cap and holder 3 on the container 1, the floss strand extending over the rim of 3 the container may be drawn out to dispose a length of the strand in the groove 10 and slots 11 and 12.. By tightening the cap on the container, the strand is firmly clamped against the rim of the container and may be pulled tight across the space between the arms and firmly held under tension by Winding it about the cleat 13 and into wedging engagement with the slots 14. The outer portion 18 of the pick 17 is preferably cylindrical and the inner portion 19 is preferably of conical form and the sockets 16 are so disposed that a floss strand stretched across the space between the arms contacts with the conical face of the portion 19 throughout its length. The
two picks 17 are preferably identical and each socket 16 a is disposed at an angle to the supporting strand corresponding to the angle of taper of the conical portion 19. The axes of the sockets 16 are coplanar with the positi'oning slots 11 and 12 so that the floss strand closely overlies the outermost portions of the conical faces of the portions 19 of the picks. The picks 17 may be provided with an integral positioning rib 20 having a flat portion 21 over which the floss strand passes.
When the floss strand is pulled tight it exerts inward pressure on the elastic rubber picks -17, slightly indenting the portions of the pick which it engages so that the strand is retained in engagement with the pick while it is being flexed by inward pressure during insertion between teeth and so that the picks are guided by the floss strand into the spaces between the teeth adjacent the gums as the strand is moved back and forth between the teeth. The pointed ends of the picks serve toquickly displace food particles lodged between the teeth and the combined action of the picks and floss strand enables the device to quickly expel matter accumulated between the teeth. The conical points engaging spaced teeth also tend to center the floss strand between teeth, cleanse the tooth surfaces by wiping contact with the sides of the teeth, thereby greatly reducing the abrasive action on the strand which occurs when cleansing is eflected solely by wiping action of the floss strand. Such abrasive action on the floss strand may be quite severe where the rough surfaces of fillings are exposed. The picks also provide cushioning supports for the floss strand which insures gradual bending adjacent the anchor points on the arms so that there is less danger of rupture of the floss strand by pressure exerted upon the taut strand to force the same between teeth.
A cutter in the form of a tongue 22 struck up from the body of a disk '23 anchored in the arm 6 below the cleat v13 serves to sever the strand after a used portion is drawn through the positioning slot 12 and wrapped around the cleat 13. The strand is severed by engagement with an edge of the tongue 22 and the end of the strand may be retained within the tongue 22 until it is desired to pull out an additional length of floss strand for use.
FIGS. and 6 of the drawings show a modified construction which employs a combined cap and holder So having a form somewhat different from the combined cap and holder shown in FIGS. 1 to 3. The combined cap and holder 3a may be employed with a container identical with that shown in FIGS. 1 to 3. The floss strand is clamped to the rim of the container 1 in the same manner as in the modification previously described. The cap member 3a is provided with arms 5a and da which may be of identical configuration and which we slanted with respect to the container 1 to which the cap member is attached. The strand extends from the con- .tainer 1 over the rim of the container to a slot 9a corresponding to the slot 9 and through a groove a corresponding to the groove 1% and then through narrow positioning slots 11a and 12a in the other ends of the arms 4a and 511 that correspond tothe positioning slots 11 and 12 of the modification first described. The arm 6a is provided with a fastening cleat 1311 having wedging slots 14a corresponding to those of the cleat 13 previously described and picks 17a are supported in the arms 5a and 6a in exactly the same way as in the modification previously described.
It is to be understood that in accordance with the provisions of the patent statutes, variations and modifications of the specific devices herein shown and described may be made without departing from the spirit of the invention.
What I claim is:
1. In a tooth cleaning device of the type having a dental floss holder provided with a body portion, spaced floss supporting arms projecting from said body portion and means for supporting and holding taut a strand of dental floss extending across the space between said arms and spaced from said body portion for entry between teeth, the improvement which comprises a flexible and elastic tooth cleaning and gum massaging pick that is attached at its outer end to one of said arms independently of the floss strand and inwardly thereof, that extends toward the other arm, that has its axis substantially coplanar with said strand, that tapers to a point that is disposed closely adjacent said strand and at a distance from the said other arm to provide a length of strand beyond said point for entry between teeth and for guiding said pick into a space between teeth into which said strand has been inserted.
2. A tooth cleaning device such as set forth in claim 1 in which the tapered end of the pick is substantially conical in form.
3. A tooth cleaning device such as set forth in claim 1 in which the floss holder has a floss strand container and means for guiding a length of clean strand from said container to the supporting means on said arms to replace a used length of strand.
4. In a tooth cleaning device of the type having a dental floss holder having a body portion, spaced arms projecting from said body portion that are provided with floss strand positioning means adjacent their outer ends and strand binding means associated with said arms for holding taut a floss strand positioned across the space between the outer ends of said anms, the improvement which comprises two opposed elongated flexible tooth cleaning and gum massaging picks of elastomeric material attached at their outer ends one to each of said arms independently of the floss strand and positioned between said strand and said body portion, each of said picks having an inner end tapering conically to a point, the pointed ends of said picks being closely adjacent said strand and spaced apart to provide a free length of floss strand between them for entry between teeth and for guiding said picks into the space between teeth occupied by said free length of strand.
5. A tooth cleaning device as defined in claim 4 in which the floss strand supporting arms have sockets opening to the inner faces thereof adjacent their outer ends and strand receiving slots across the outer faces of said arms that open to said sockets 'and in which said picks are composed of elastic rubber and have outer end portions that fit in said sockets and provide a yielding support for said floss strand.
References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,171,177 De LEau Feb. 8, 1916 1,506,417 Donals Aug. 26, 1924 1,990,404 Doner Feb. 5, 1935 FOREIGN PATENTS 577,198 Canada June 9, 1959