US 3448738 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
June 10, 1969 D. BERGHASH 3,448,738
PROTECTIVE MOUTHPIECE Filed Dec. 19 1966 INVENTOR.
ATTORNEYS ROBERT D. BERGHASH United States Patent 3,448,738 PROTECTIVE MOUTHPIECE Robert D. Berghash, Williamsville, N.Y., assignor to Shield Mfg., Inc., Bulfalo, N.Y., a corporation of New York Filed Dec. 19, 1966, Ser. No. 602,950 Int. Cl. A61c 7/00; A42b 3/02 US. Cl. 128-136 9 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE Background of the invention The present invention relates to a protective device for teeth. Specifically, the present invention relates to a mouthpiece construction having a mouthguard for protecting the teeth of a wearer engaged in strenuous physical activity, such as football, lacrosse arid the like, and an improved fastener arrangement for releasably securing the mouthguard to protective headgear normally worn by those engaged in such activity.
It is known to provide a mouthguard having means for fastening to protective headgear, such as a football helmet, whereby the gward does not become separated from the user upon removal from his mouth. However, it is important to avoid discomfort and possible injury should the mouthguard be suddenly and forcibly withdrawn from its protective position about a 'wearers teeth. This might occur, for example, if a headgear to which the mouthpiece is fastened is suddenly knocked otf or separated from a player or if the fastener itself is inadvertently grasped and pulled by an opponent. Mouthguard fasteners requiring a predetermined orientation and manipulation for separation from the headgear and those which are subject to destructive separation are not a satisfactory solution for these reasons.
Summary of invention It is a primary object of the present invention to provide a protective mouthpiece adapted for connection to protective headgear and releasable therefrom in an improved, nondestruotive manner automatically in response to the application of a predetermined force to the fastener or headgear.
It is another object of the present invention to provide protective mouthpiece having a mouthguard and fastener which is easily and readily secured to and detached from the headgear without excessive manipulation or predetermined orientation of the fastener.
It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a protective mouthpiece having the foregoing characteristics wherein the fastener can be readily adjusted to vary the force required to connect and disconnect the mouthpiece to and from the headgear.
Other objects of the present invention are to provide a protective mouthguard an'd fastener combination wherein the mouthguard is quickly and easily positioned in the users mouth, tends to remain comfortably in protective position therein and is readily and inexpensively manufactured.
In one aspect thereof, a protective mouthpiece of the present invention is characterized by a mouthguard 3,448,738 Patented June 10, 1969 adapted to be disposed in protective position about a users teeth, a fastener including an elongated flexible strap secured at one end to a central portion of the mouthguard and projecting outwardly therefrom for looping engagement about connecting portions of a headgear, the strap having an opening therethrough intermediate its ends, the
other end of the strap having a connector including a re- Brief description of the drawing FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of the head of a football player showing a protective mouthpiece constructed in accordance with the present invention in protective position and fastened to the players headgear;
FIG. 2 is an enlarged top plan view of the protective mouthpiece;
FIG. 3 is a view thereof partly in cross section and partly in side elevation, being taken about on line 3-3 of FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is a cross sectional view thereof taken about on line 44 of FIG. 2; and
FIG. 5 is a fragmentary view on a reduced soale, partly in cross-section and partly in side elevation, showing the mouthguard in protective position about a wearers teeth and illustrating two forms of attachment to the headgear.
Description of the preferred embodiment Referring to the drawing, particularly to FIG. 1, there is shown a player wearing protective headgear in the form of a conventional football helmet 10 having a face guard 11 and a chin strap 12 and also wearing the protective mouthpiece of the present invention generally designated 13. It will be understood that other types of headgear may be utilized in conjunction with mouthpiece 13 and that the illustrations showing the mouthpiece 13 fastened to face guard 11 and chin strap 12 (FIG. 5) are two illustrative ways of attaching the mouthpiece 13 to a helmet and are in no way intended to limit the present invention to a particular manner of attachment to a particular type of headgear.
Mouthpiece 13 is a unitary construction preferably of a synthetic plastic material formed to comprise a mouthguard 14 and a fastener strap 15. Mouthguard 14 includes a flat, generally U-shaped, semicircular cushion 18 hav ing leg portions laterally widening in area toward their free ends, and having rims 19 and 20 upstanding from the respective outer and inner peripheral edges thereof. As best illustrated in FIG. 3, the upper edge of outer rim 19 curves upwardly and forwardly along each side portion thereof from the rearmost portion of mouthguard 14 as indicated at 21 to midway therealong. This edge then inclines slightly upwardly and forwardly along each side portion, as indicated at 22, and then downwardly to form a substantially V-shaped depression 23 (FIG. 4) at the front center of guard 14.
Inner rim 20 inclines slightly inwardly as seen in FIGS. 2 and 4 and the upper edge thereof slopes upwardly and rearwardly from the central area of mouthguard 14 along each side portion thereof as indicated at 24, terminating in downwardly sloping portions at the free ends of the legs of cushion 18. The rims and cushion thus form a generally semicircular cavity opening upwardly through the to of mouthguard 14 for substantially protectively encasing a wearers upper teeth with cushion 18 positioned to provide a protective barrier between the upper and lower teeth as illustrated in FIG. 5. The rims and their edges are configured to conform about opposite sides of the upper teeth with the edge along the outer rim particularly configured as at 23 to comfortably accommodate the frenum between the central portion of a wearers upper lip and gum. While this particular configuration is considered to be desirable from many points of view, it will be appreciated that other mouthguard configurations can be used in the protective mouthpiece of this invention.
Fastener extends forwardly from the front center of guard 14 in the region of cushion 18, being spaced above the bottom portion of cushion 18 as to be positioned comfortably between a users lips when cushion 18 is in protective position between the upper and lower teeth as seen in FIG. 5.
Fastener 15 comprises a flat band or strap substantially wider than it is thick having a plurality of circular openings 25 spaced lengthwise therealong and a connector generally designated 26 formed on its distal end. Connector 26 includes a reduced width, substantially cylindrical shank 27 extending from a laterally inwardly tapering portion of strap 15 indicated at 31 and having a bulbous enlargement 29 at its extreme end. The inner end of shank 27 is formed about opposite sides of strap 15 at the juncture of the tapered portion 31 and shank 27 to provide reinforcing fillets 32.
Enlargement 29 is shaped to form a generally oblate spheroid having a lateral dimension in the plane of strap 15 larger than its dimension normal to the plane of strap 15 as best illustrated by comparing FIGS. 2 and 3. Openings 25 are tapered from the upper to the lower side of strap 15 (left to right as illustrated in FIG. 3). Openings 25 and enlargement 29 are formed so that the maximum dimension of enlargement 29 is larger than the maximum dimension of openings 25 with the minimum dimension of enlargement 29 approximating the maximum dimension of openings 25. The relative shapes and sizes of enlargement 29 and openings 25 facilitate the fastening of mouthguard 14 to the headgear, and detachment therefrom, as will become apparent from the following.
In use, mouthguard 14 is inserted in the wearers mouth with rims 19 and disposed on opposite sides of his upper teeth, substantially as shown in FIG. 5, and with fastener strap 15 projecting forwardly between his lips for connection to his headgear. In fastening mouthpiece 13 to face guard 11 in the manner shown in FIG. 1 and by the broken lines of FIG. 5, fastener 15 is looped upwardly about a bar of face guard 11 so that enlargement 29 can engage through a selected tapered opening 25. For fastening mouthpiece 13 to chin strap 12, a slot or opening 34 is provided through chin strap 12 as illustrated in FIG. 5. Fastener 15 is then positioned behind chin strap 12 for insertion outwardly through opening 34 and thereupon looped, looped chin strap 12 so that enlargement 29 engages through a selected tapered opening 25. In both fastening modes, fastener 15 is looped so that enlargement 29 engages through tapered openings from the larger diameter side of the opening. The taper of the openings 25 thereby facilitates insertion of enlargement 29 through the selected opening 25. The tapered outer end of bulb 29 also facilitates such insertion.
Due to the resilient nature of the plastic material forming mouthpiece 13, the engagement of enlargement 29 through openings 25 is a snap through engagement with the area of fastener strap 15 about openings 25 resiliently yielding and deforming to permit passage of enlargement 29 through openings 25. By providing an enlargement 29 having a lateral dimension larger than the diameter of opening 25 and a normally disposed dimension approximating the diameter of the openings, the openings need resiliently deform substantially only in one dimension upon insertion of enlargement 29 therethrough, thereby making such insertion easier by requiring less force. The same is true when withdrawing enlargament 29 through openings 25.
With mouthpiece 13 in protective position and fastened to headgear 10 it will be seen that fastener 15 can be released by pulling fastener 15 to withdraw enlargement 29 through opening 25. Openings 25 will resiliently deform to permit enlargement 29 to snap therethrough upon application of a predetermined force to the looped portions of fastener 15. In this manner, fastener 15 can be manually released when desired or automatically released in response to a predetermined force applied to the looped portions thereof as when strap 15 is caught or when headgear 10 is inadvertently forcefully separated from a wearer.
By heating the area about openings 25 or by forcing a probe therethrough, the size of openings 25 can be respectfully reduced or enlarged to vary the force required for inserting and withdrawing enlargement 29 through openings 25. Enlargement 29 remains engaged through opening 25. They will not accidently separate regardless of their relative angular position. Also, a predetermined relative angular orientation is not required to withdraw bulb 29 through opening 25. Openings 25 will pass bulb 29 in the unlooping disconnecting direction upon applying a predetermined force, without regard to their relative angular orientation, and such snap-through connection and disconnection can be performed repeatedly without damaging the fastener 15. The curved form of the bulb 29 adjacent its juncture with shank 27 facilitates withdrawing the bulb through the opening.
It is thus apparent that the objects of my invention have been fulfilled. There is provided a mouthpiece which is easily and readily secured to a headgear without requiring a particular connector on the headgear, is releasable from the headgear automatically in response to a predetermined force, and can be readily adjusted to vary the force required to secure and disconnect the mouthpiece to and from the headgear. The mouthpiece can be easily and quickly inserted in a comfortable protective position about a wearers upper teeth and is readily and inexpensively manufactured.
Having thus described and illustrated one preferred form of my invention, it will be understood that such description and illustration is by way of example only and that such modifications and changes as may suggest themselves to those skilled in the art are intended to fall within the scope of the present invention as limited only by the appended claims.
What I claim as new is:
1. A protective mouthpiece adapted to be releasably secured to a users protective headgear comprising a mouthguard adapted to be disposed in protective position about a users teeth, a fastener including an elongated flexible strap secured at one end to a central portion of said mouthguard and projecting outwardly therefrom for looping engagement about connecting portions of protec tive headgear, said strap having an opening therethrough intermediate its ends, said strap being formed at its distal end to provide a connector including a reduced width shank and an enlargement at the outer end of said shank, said enlargement being larger than said opening in all positions of relative angular orientation thereof whereby said opening receives said enlargement in releasable snapthrough engagement, wherein said strap is a flat band substantially wider than thick, said enlargement comprising a bulbous enlargement extending laterally beyond said shank.
2. The combination according to claim 1 wherein said strap is a flat band substantially wider than it is thick, said enlargement having its maximum dimension in the plane of said band, and said opening being circular to accommodate passage of said enlargement therethrough.
3. The combination according to claim 1 wherein said opening tapers from one side of said strap to the other with the larger diameter portion of said opening being on the side of said strap remote from said enlargement when said enlargement is engaged through said opening.
4. The combination according to claim 1 wherein said bulbous enlargement comprises a generally oblate spheroid having its flattened axis substantially normal to the plane of said flat band.
5. A protective mouthpiece according to claim 1 wherein said opening is circular and tapers from one side to the other with the larger portion of said opening being on the side of said strap remote from said enlargement when said enlargement is engaged through said opening.
6. A protective mouthpiece according to claim 1 wherein said strap is a flat band substantially wider than thick and formed of a synthetic plastic material, said shank being substantially cylindrically shaped and having a diameter larger than the thickness of said strap, the end of said cylindrical shank remote from said enlargement having reinforcing fillets formed about opposite sides of said strap.
7. A protective mouthpiece according to claim 1 from opposite edges thereof for confining at least a por- 1 tion of a users teeth therebetween.
9. A protective mouthpiece according to claim 8 wherein said strap is secured to said mouthguard in spaced relation to the undersurface of said cushion.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,847,003 8/1958 Helmer et a1. 128-136 3,312,218 4/1967 Jacobs 128--136 3,314,423 4/ 1967 Boatwright et a1. 128-l36 ADELE M. EAGER, Primary Examiner.
US. Cl. X.R. 2-9