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Publication numberUS3642011 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateFeb 15, 1972
Filing dateNov 2, 1970
Priority dateNov 2, 1970
Publication numberUS 3642011 A, US 3642011A, US-A-3642011, US3642011 A, US3642011A
InventorsThompson Glenn H
Original AssigneeThompson Glenn H
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Dental floss holder
US 3642011 A
Abstract
A Y-shaped dental floss holder in which the arms of the Y are flexible enough so that they can be squeezed toward each other in such a manner that a length of dental floss extending through two holes in the tips of the arms and secured to the bottom of the Y will have tension exerted on it when the pressure on the arms is released. The dental floss is strung so that it passes around the edges of the ends of the arms in substantially coplanar relationship with one surface of the Y, then through the holes from the respective outside surfaces of the arm tips and down the inside surfaces of the arms to a position on the base where it is held securely.
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United States Patent Thompson DENTAL FLOSS HOLDER Inventor: Glenn 11. Thompson, 323 West Main Street, Amherst, Ohio 44001 Filed:

Appl. No.:

Nov. 2, 1970 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS Woodhouse ....132/91 2,059,287 11/1936 Storm 1 32/91 Primary ExaminerLouis G. Mancene Assistant ExaminerGregory E. McNeill Attorney-Fay, Sharpe and Mulholland [57] ABSTRACT A Y-shaped dental floss holder in which the arms of the Y are flexible enough so that they can be squeezed toward each other in such a manner that a length of dental floss extending through two holes in the tips of the arms and secured to the bottom of the Y will have tension exerted on it when the pressure on the arms is released. The dental floss is strung so that it passes around the edges of the ends of the arms in substantially coplanar relationship with one surface of the Y, then through the holes from the respective outside surfaces of the arm tips and down the inside surfaces of the arms to a position on the base where it is held securely.

5 Claims, 4 Drawing Figures PAIENIEUFEB 15 1912 3.642 01 1 F7 INVENTOR GLENN H. TH OMPSOsJ BY 5%, Me 1% ATTORNEYS.

DENTAL FLOSS HOLDER BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention This invention pertains to that field of art which involves tooth-cleaning devices and more particularly devices which hold a strand of material which is to be .inserted between the teeth for removing particles which generally cannot be dislodged by normal brushing.

2. Description of the Prior Art In the prior art, dental floss holders have generally been rigid slotted Y-shaped members. The slots of the prior art were unsatisfactory in that the dental floss was hard to properly locate in the slots and once the dental floss was properly engaged, it had a tendency to slip out of the slots. Previous dental floss holders were strung in such a way that the floss which was not being used often interfered with the operation of the instrument because of its placement on one of the nonopposing surfaces of the arms of the Y. Also, in the prior art, the free ends of the floss were often secured on protrusions which interfered with the operation of the device and which were discomforting to the user. Often the general cross-sectional area of the prior holders has been angled so as to cause additional discomfort. The tensioning of the floss across the top of the Y was often a haphazard proposition and if the floss or cleaning member ever became lodged between the teeth, it was often difficult to disengage. Also, the tooth engaging portion of floss was often prevented from being presented cleanly or completely to the teeth because the tines of the holder would strike portions of the inside of the mouth and prevent the full insertion of the floss between the teeth.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION Among the objects of this invention is the provision of a dental floss holder that is generally Y-shaped and of a rounded cross-sectional configuration. It is also an object of the present invention to provide a dental floss holder with arms that are resiliently opposed to each other and to provide a dental floss holder in which the notches of the prior art in the ends of the tines are replaced by holes through which a length of dental floss may easily be passed. Moreover, the present invention provides a dental floss stringing arrangement whereby the floss which is not being used lies on the inside facing surfaces of the arms then down to the end of the base of the Y remote from the bight of the tines and is secured there. The arms are of sufficient length that the view of the floss engaging the teeth when the instrument is being used is not obstructed and the member itself can be grasped at the juncture of the tines and the base thus enabling the implement to be controlled more satisfactorily. In the present invention, the arms of the Y are resiliently opposed so that they may exert pressure on the length of dental floss passing through the holes in the ends of the arms but additionally such arms are rigid in the direction that pressure is applied to the instrument in cleaning the teeth. The tine resiliency substantially prevents the gums from becoming cut when the device is used because the arms will flex when any substantial resistance is encountered.

These and other objects of the present invention are accomplished by providing a Y-shaped dental floss holder having resilient arms and apertures in the ends thereof with a frictional floss-engaging slot at the base thereof and a piece of dental floss which is strung across the ends of the tines in the area of the eyes in substantially coplanar relationship with one surface of the Y-shaped member and in through the holes at the ends of the respective arms from the outside and then along the inside of the arms to the base of the Y and into the slot for frictional engagement therein. The tines are normally at rest at a fixed angle, which angle is decreased by pressing on the outside of either arm to decrease the distance between the ends of the arms when the floss is being strung. After the floss has been strung through the eyes as hereinbefore described and inserted into the frictional holding slot at the base of the Y, the arms are prevented from returning to their normal position by the length of dental floss going through the device but the spring like action of the arms exerts tension on the floss so that the device may be effectively operated.

DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION A more complete description of the preferred embodiment of this invention will now be made with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a view of the invention ready for use in cleaning the teeth;

FIG. 2 is a plan view of the dental floss holder;

FIG. 3 is a side view, and;

FIG. 4 is a plan view of the holder after it has been strung with dental floss. I

In FIG. I, the invention, indicated generally by the numeral 10, is shown being held ready for use.

It can be seen in FIG. 1 that the dental floss 14 has been strung about the outsides of the tines l6 and 18 thence through the apertures 20 and 2 nd then down along the inner facing surfaces 24 and 26 of the holder 10.

One of the methods by which this stringing arrangement may be accomplished is shown in FIG. 2. As can be seen in said FIG. 2, the broken line indicates the direction in which the floss is inserted in apertures 20 and 22. As can be seen in FIG. 4 after the floss is inserted from the outside to the inside of the apertures, it is strung down along the inside of the tines and then along the outside of the handle 28 and then through the frictional securing slot 30. It will also be readily appreciated that it is not absolutely necessary for the slot 30 to secure the floss tautly on the first pass through since the ends of the floss 32 can be wrapped about the lower portion 34 of handle 28 and thence back through slot 30 to thereby firmly secure the floss in operable position to the holder. Alternatively, pressure can be applied to the floss by the thumb as shown in FIG. 1 although it is the intent of this invention that the floss be generally secured by the slot.

As is seen in FIGS. 2 and 4, the portion of the holder that defines the slot 30 has been beveled at 36 to permit easy insertion of the floss.

The arms or tines or forks of the holder are also flexible so that pressure exerted on the outside surfaces 38 thereof will cause them to move toward each other so that when floss is strung as shown in FIG. 4 and the pressure is released against the floss, the floss will become taut.

One of the more important features of this invention involves the placement of the operable section of the dental floss around the outside of the tines. This is done so that the floss may be the first element of the holder-floss combination to contact the teeth or the gums. Thus, that section of the holder comprising the area between the apertures in the ends of the tines and the outside surfaces of the tines which is generally indicated as 40 in FIG. 3 will not interfere with the operation of the dental floss, It can also be seen that by virtue of the arrangement of the floss in the holder the tips of the tines indicated as 42 in FIG. 4 will also not interfere with the floss tooth contact since the instrument must be used in such a manner that the angle of approach of the holder to the teeth by virtue of the placement of the floss is such that contact will first be made by the floss.

It is also seen that by virtue of the fact that the apertures 22 and 20 are holes as opposed to notches that once the device is strung there is no possibility that the floss will become disengaged from the holder while it is in use and additionally, stringing of the holder is made easier.

It is also seen that the utilization of the notch or slot 30 makes possible quick and easy disengagement of the floss from its tautly secured position in the holder so that in the event the floss becomes engaged between the teeth while the instrument is in operation the floss can be disengaged for easy removal of the holder itself and subsequent manipulation of the floss to disengage it from the teeth or gums. It can also be seen by examining the end portion of the tines in the area of the apertures which are indicated generally as 44 in FIG. 4 that they are of such dimension that the string must necessarily lie closer to the teeth when the instrument is in operation than any portion of the holder. This is accomplished by making the vertical direction 46 no greater than the horizontal direction 48 as shown in FIG. 2, each measurement taken from the center of the aperture. It can be seen, however, that these dimensions can be varied somewhat but as the vertical direction 46 approaches a distance equal to or greater than the horizontal direction 48, the angle of attack which may be used by the operator of the device is lessened. It can also be seen that as the operable portion of the floss is adjusted around the end of the tine in the direction of the arrow 50 in FIG. 1 that the angle of attack would also be increased; however, the floss would have a tendency to slip along the circumference of the ends of the tines which would necessarily loosen the tension on the floss which is undesirable.

it is seen that by virtue of the stringing arrangement shown in FIGS. 1 and 4, the path followed by the floss is the shortest distance around the ends of the tines. Any movement around the circumference 52 necessarily lengthens the distance the floss must traverse before it enters apertures and 22, thereby making slippage of the floss possible during use, such slippage resulting in lessening the tension across the floss and thereby reducing the efficiency of the instrument.

It is also seen that the tines of the holder are made sufflciently long in relation to the hand of the normal operator that the view of teeth is not obstructed. It is also seen that by virtue of the smooth lines of the holder it can be grasped near the fork 54 thereby insuring better control over the holder when it is in use.

The distance between the tines 56 as shown in FIG. 2 is sufflciently large to enable the arms to lie on either side of the teeth being cleaned.

The invention is also constructed so that the arms are rigid in the direction in which the pressure is being applied but, as pointed out heretofore, are flexible in the plane of the Y. This flexible, rigid characteristic allows not only for tensioning of the string but also allows for substantial rigidity when pressure is applied to the teeth in a plane which is generally perpendicular to the perpendicular axis of the Y. Moreover, it additionally allows for flexibility and enables the holder to give when the floss strikes the gums so as to lessen the chance that the gums will be injured.

It can also be seen that since the floss lies flat against the insides of the arms it does not interfere with the operation of the instrument. It is also seen that the tension of the string is easily changed by virtue of the fact that in general usage the ends of the floss 32 are merely placed in the frictional engaging slot 30 and may be easily removed.

The invention has been described in great detail sufficient to enable one of ordinary skill in the art to make and use the same. Obviously, modifications and alterations of the preferred embodiment will occur upon a reading and understanding of the specification and it is my intention to include all such modifications and alterations as part of my invention insofar as they come within the scope of the appended claims.

What is claimed is:

1. A Y-shaped dental floss holder comprising:

an elongated base member which is slotted at one extremity thereof for releasably securing dental floss;

a pair of apertured unidirectionally flexible tines, continuous with the base, remote from said one extremity, to form a Y-shaped member wherein said apertures are situated at the tip of each tine remote from the bight of the tines and pass through the tines in a direction coplanar with the Y-shaped member, said undirectional flexibility being in a plane defined by said tines so that the angle formed by the tines decreases responsive to pinching pressure on the outer surface of the tines and when said pressure is released, the tine flexibility supplies tension on a length of dental'floss passing on the outer ed e of the tine substantially coplanar with the surface 0 the Y,

through the apertures, thence along the inner facing sides of the tines and then through the base slot wherein the floss is frictionally secured.

2. The dental floss holder of claim 1 which further comprises a notch at one extremity of the base to guide the floss into the base slot.

3. The method of stringing a dental floss holder comprising an elongated base member which is slotted at one extremity thereof for releasably securing dental floss;

a pair of apertured unidirectionally flexible tines, continuous with the base, remote from said one extremity, to form a Y-shaped member wherein said apertures are situated at the tip of each tine remote from the bight of the tines and pass through the tines in a direction coplanar with the Y-shaped member, said unidirectional flexibility being in a plane defined by said tines so that the angle formed by the tines decreases responsive to pinching pressure on the outer surface of the tines and when said pressure is released, the tine flexibility supplies tension on a length of dental floss passingon the outer edge of the tine substantially coplanar with the surface of the Y, through the apertures, thence along the inner facing sides of the tines and then through the base slot wherein the floss is frictionally secured and comprising:

the procedural combination of steps of grasping the tines along their outer surfaces;

squeezing the tines so that the angle between them is reduced;

stringing dental floss from the outside of each aperture to the inside of each aperture;

pulling the ends of the floss taut;

inserting the ends of the floss through the base slot, and

releasing the squeezing pressure on the tines.

4. The method of claim 3 further comprising the step of wrapping the ends of the floss around the base and again inserting the ends of the floss in the base slot so that when the tines are released tension is placed on the portion of floss which constitutes the base of an isosceles triangle which is formed by the tooth-engaging floss and the two arms of the holder.

5. The method of stringing a dental floss holder comprising:

an elongated base member which is slotted at one extremity thereof for releasably securing dental floss;

a pair of apertured unidirectionally flexible tines, continuous with the base, remote from saidvone extremity, to form a Y-shaped member wherein said apertures are situated at the tip of each tine remote from the bight of the tines and pass through the tines jina direction coplanar with the Y-shaped member, said unidirectional flexibility being in a plane defined bysaid tines so that the angle formed by the tines decreases responsive to pinching pressure on the outer surface of the tines and when said pressure is released, the tine flexibility supplies tension on a length of dental floss passing on the outer edge of the tine substantially coplanar with the surface of the Y, through the apertures, thence along the inner facing sides of the tines and then through the base slot wherein the floss is frictionally secured and comprising:

the procedural combination of steps of grasping the tines along their outer surfaces;

squeezing the tines so that the angle between them is reduced;

stringing dental floss from the outside to the inside of one aperture and then from the inside to the outside of the other apertures; tensioning the floss; inserting the ends of the floss through the slot in the base;

and 7 releasing the squeezing pressure on the tines.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US902122 *May 18, 1907Oct 27, 1908Elizabeth E SulzerTooth-cleaner.
US1166732 *Feb 17, 1915Jan 4, 1916Denis K WoodhouseDental-floss holder.
US1815408 *Mar 29, 1929Jul 21, 1931Jordan James KDental floss holder
US2059287 *Jan 21, 1935Nov 3, 1936Storm James ADental floss holder
US2516539 *Oct 10, 1946Jul 25, 1950Atols John MDental floss holder
US3474799 *Jun 8, 1966Oct 28, 1969Cappello Vito PDental floss holder
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4729392 *May 15, 1986Mar 8, 1988Home Health & SafetyDental floss holder
US5482466 *Jul 9, 1993Jan 9, 1996Haynes; Patrick M.Flossing tool
US5860435 *May 8, 1997Jan 19, 1999Hippensteel; Joseph B.Dental floss holder with an automatic floss tensioning means
US6565665 *May 22, 2000May 20, 2003Deborah Z. AltschulerLice comb cleaning device
EP0287039A2 *Apr 12, 1988Oct 19, 1988Rochus MarxerTensile string, especially for cleaning between adjacent teeth, receptacle and holder for this string
Classifications
U.S. Classification132/323
International ClassificationA61C15/04, A61C15/00
Cooperative ClassificationA61C15/046
European ClassificationA61C15/04E