US 3682164 A
A protective mouthpiece having a mouthguard and a lip shield separated by a web member formed integral therewith. The mouthpiece is formed of a thermoplastic material adapted to be custom-fitted to the individual's mouth and lip formation. A pair of strap members are attached to opposite ends of the lip shield for securing the mouthpiece to connecting portions of a protective headgear.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent M l r [451 Aug. 8, 1972 [5 1 PROTECTIVE MOUTHPIECE 3,257,694 6/1966 Litwin ..'....24/16 PBX 72 Invent G] Milk T 3,362,412 1/1968 Moller ..24/16 PB x l 1 f' N Y 3,407,809 10/1968 Ross. ..128/136  Asslgneez Shield Mfg. Inc., Buffalo, NY. 3,485,242 12/1969 Greenberg ..l28/l36  led: 1970 Primary Examiner-Lawrence Charles  Appl. No.: 9,621 Attorney-Christel & Bean 52 us. 01 ..128/136 [571' ABSTRACT 51 161.0 ..A6lc 7/00, A42b 3/02 A protective mouthpiece having a mouthsuard and a  Field or Search l28/l36; 24/16 PB;402/l5 p shield Separated y a web member formed integral therewith. The mouthpiece is formed of a ther- 5 References Cited moplastic material adapted to be custom-fitted to the individuals mouth and lip formation. A pair of strap UNITED STATES PATENTS members are attached to opposite ends of the lip, hield for securing the mouthpiece to connecting por- 3,082,765 3/1963 Helmet 128/1 36 3,448,738 6/1969 Berghash 128/136 a pmtecuve headgear,
6/1964 Dunning ..12 8/ 136 X 13 Claims, 10 Drawing Figures minnows 8 m2 3.682.164
SHEET 1 0F 2 INVENTOR. 52 5 959m? 0. 772175. 7
A T TOFN E Y5,
1 PROTECTIVE MOUTHPIECE BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to a protective mouthpiece and, more particularly, to a mouthpiece having a combined mouthguard and lip shield for protecting the teeth and lips, respectively, of a wearer engaged in strenuous physical activities such as football, hockey, lacrosse and the like.
It is known to provide a mouthpiece having a guard for protecting the teeth of a wearer and a shield for protecting the lips of a wearer. However, the lip shield in such prior known mouthpieces generally contacts the lips of the user causing irritation thereto and restricts free and easy breathing and speech. Also, the mouthpiece is usually held in place by engagement of the teeth therewith so as to further'hamper the ability to speak. Moreover, the mouthpiece can be easily knocked from the users mouth during the course of such strenuous physical activities as football, hockey and tlllle like or ejected by inadvertently opening the mout SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION It is an object of the present invention to provide an improved protective mouthpiece for the teeth and lips of a wearer and which is custom fitted to providemaximum comfort and protection.
It is another object of this invention to provide the foregoing protective mouthpiece with a lip shield projecting forwardly of the lips to prevent lip irritation and contoured for ease of breathing and speaking.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide an improved protective mouthpiece having a dual strap arrangement for securely holding such mouthpiece in place without the necessity of maintaining a constant bite thereon.
It is still another object of this invention to provide the foregoing mouthpiece with a connecting web member extending between the mouthguard and lip shield for spacing the lip shield forwardly of the users lips and absorbing impact energy transmitted to the lip region.
In one aspect thereof, a protective mouthpiece of the present invention is characterized by the provision of a custom-fitted, combined mouthguard and lip shield connected by a web member integrally formed with the lip shield and mouthguard. The web member spaces the lip shield forwardly of the users lips and serves as a support for the users upper lip. A pair of strap members are detachably secured to opposite ends of the lip FIG. 2 is a side elevational view of the protective mouthpiece of FIG. I; a
FIG. 3 is an enlarged fragmentary longitudinal sectional view taken about on line 33 of FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is a fragmentary bottom plan view looking in the direction of arrows 4-4 in FIG. 3 with the interlocked upper portion of the strap member removed;
FIG. 4a is a fragmentary perspective view of a portion of a strap member of this invention;
FIG. 5 is a rear elevational view looking in the direction of arrows 5-5 in FIG. I;
' FIG. 6 is aside elevational view, partially in section, taken about on line 66 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 7 is a vertical sectional view taken about on line 7-7 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 8 is a side elevational view of one type of protective headgear showing the protective mouthpiece of the present invention in protective position and attached to the headgear by a dual strap arrangement of this invention; and
FIG. 9 is a side elevational view of another type of headgear showing the protective mouthpiece of the present invention secured in protective position by another strap arrangement.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring now in detail to the drawings, there is shown in FIG. 1 a protective mouthpiece, generally designated 10, constructed in accordancev with the present invention. Mouthpiece 10 is a unitary construction preferably of a synthetic thermoplastic material adapted to be custom fitted to the mouth and lip formation of the user formed to comprise a mouthguard 12, a lip protector in the form of a shield 14 connected to mouthguard 12 by a cross web member 16, and a fastener strap 18. A pair of strap members, generally designated 20, are detachably secured to opposite ends of lip shield 14 and can be used, if desired, as dictated by the specific type of headgear used. For example, mouthpiece 10 is shown attached to opposite side straps 22 of a conventional hockey helmet 24 in FIG. 8 whereby strap members 20 are employed to attach mouthpiece 10 to helmet 24 and maintain said mouthpiece 10 in. place. Another illustrative use for shield and are adapted to be adjustably attached to a BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. I is a top plan view of a protective mouthpiece constructed in accordance with the present invention;
mouthpiece 10 is shown in FIG. 9 where such mouthpiece is attached to a chin strap 26 of a football helmet .28 by means of fastener strap 18. In this case, strap'members 20 can be eliminatedunless it is desirable to secure'mouthpiece 10 in place and prevent the ejectionthereof from the users mouth. It should be un-' derstood that mouthpiece 10 is in no manner restricted to use with headgears of the type shown in FIGS. 8 and 9, but can be utilized in conjunction with other types of headgear, as desired.
Mouthguard 12 comprises a generally U-shaped, horseshoe-shaped cushion 30 having a bight portion and leg portions laterally widening in area toward their free ends away fromsaid bight portion, and having rims 32 and 34 upstanding from the respective outer and inner peripheral edges thereof. The bottom wall of cushion 30 is initially flat but adapted to be deformed in order to provide cavities 36 (FIG. 7) in opposite sides of such bottom wall formed by the impression of the users teeth. The thermoplastic material of which sufficiently pliable during immersion in boiling water for a period of time to enable teeth impressions to be made into opposite sides of the bottom walls of cushion 30. To custom fit mouthpiece 10, it is immersed in boiling water a sufficient time to render it pliable and dipped into cold water momentarily, cooling it enough to prevent discomfort or injury to the user. The user then inserts mouthguard 12 into his mouth and bites into the bottom wall of cushion 30 to form cavities 36 I conforming to the individuals particular teeth contours 40, and then downwardly. to form a substantially V- shaped depression 42 at the front center of mouthguard 12.
Inner rim 34 inclines slightly inwardly as seen in FIGS. 1 and 5 and the upper edge thereof slopes upwardly and rearwardly from the central area of mouthguard 12 along each side portion thereof, as indicated at 44, terminatingin downwardly sloping portions at the free ends of the legs of cushion 30. The rims and cushion thus form a generally U-shaped trough opening upwardly through the top of mouthguard l 2 for substantially protectively encasing a wearers upper teeth with the bottom wall of cushion 30 positioned to provide a protective barrier between the upper and lower teeth. The rims and their edges are configured to conform comfortably about opposite sides of the upper teeth with the forward edge along outer rim 32 particularly configured to form a V-shaped depression 42 to comfortably accommodate the frenum between the central portion of a wearers upper lip and gum. The forward central portion of outer rim 32 serves as a protective barrier (FIG. 6) between the users upper front teeth and lips to prevent contact therebetween as a result of a forceful blow. 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.
Web member 16 projectsforwardly from the central lower portion of outer rim 32 and merges into lip shield 14 approximately midway between the upper and lower edges thereof. Web member 16 forms a trough or channel between outer rim 32and lip shield 14 for accommodating the lip of a user. Lip shield 14 is arcuately shaped in plan to conform to the contour of the users lip region and is located a sufiicient distance forwardly of outer rim 32 so as to be spaced forwardly of the user's lips as shown in FIG. 7 to prevent chafiing and irritation thereto such as might occur with known lip shields which embrace and contact the users lips. Also, this spacing of lip shield 14 from the users lips provides greater impact energy absorption through web member 16 before transmission to the lip region to minimize injury thereto.
As shown in FIG. 5, lip shield 14 is provided with ar cuately shaped depressions 46 and 48 centrally along the upper and lower edges thereof, respectively. These depressions together with the spacing arrangement of lip shield 14 forwardly of the user's 'lips permits free and easy breathing and enables the user to speak clearly. Also, depression 46 precludes lip shield contact with the users nose in the event of an upwardly directed blow imparted to mouthpiece 10. With mouthpiece 10 in a pliable condition for custom fitting purposes as hereinbefore described, lip shield 14 can be tilted rearwardly about web member 16 towardthe users lip region as shown in phantom in FIG. 7 to follow the natural inclination of the users lips, thus providing a custom fitted lip shield along with a custom fitted mouthguard. It is contemplated, however, that shield 14 will remain spaced from the lip.
Fastener strap 18 extends'forwardly from the front center of lip shield 14 in generally axial alignment with web member 16 as shown in FIG. 2. Strap 18 comprises a flat band substantially wider than it is thick having a plurality of circular openings 50 spaced lengthwise therealong and a connector, generally designated 52, formed on its distal end. Connector 52 includes a reduced width, substantially cylindrical shank 54 extending from a laterally inwardly tapering portion of strap 18 indicated at 56 and having a bulbous enlargement 58 at its distal end. The inner end of shank 54 is formed about opposite sides of strap 18 at the juncture of the tapered portion 56 and shank 54 to provide reinforcing fillets 60.
Enlargement 58 is shaped to form a generally oblate spheroid having a lateral dimension in the plane of strap 18 larger than its dimension normal to the plane v of strap 18. Openings 50 are countersunk to facilitate the insertion of enlargement 58 therein. Openings 50 and enlargement 58 are formed so that the maximum dimension of enlargement 58 is larger than the max- .imum dimension of openings 50 with the minimum dimension of enlargement 58 approximating the maximum diameter of openings 50. The relative shapes and sizes of enlargement 58 and openings 50 facilitate the fastening and detachment of mouthpiece 10 to and from the headgear. I I I The structure described above forms a mouthpiece having utility and can be used in the following manner. Mouthpiece 10 is inserted in the users mouth with fastener strap 18 projecting forwardly from lip shield 14 for connection to his headgear. Mouthpiece 10 can be used with headgear having face guards whereby strap l8is looped upwardly about. a bar of such face guard so that enlargement 58 can engage through a selected opening 50. Alternatively, strap 18 can be i looped through an opening in a chin strap 26 attached to a helmet 28 as shown in FIG. 9 with enlargement 58 then engaging through a selected opening 50. In both fastening arrangements, strap 18 is looped so that enlargement 58 enters through openings 50 from the larger diameter side of the opening. The taper of counmit passage of enlargement 58 through openings 50. Because enlargement 58 has a lateral dimension larger than the diameter of opening 50 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 58 therethrough, thereby making such insertion easier by requiring less force. The same is true when withdrawing enlargement 58 through openings 50.
With mouthpiece in protective position and fastened to headgear 28. it will be seen that fastener strap 18 can be released by pulling strap 18 to withdraw enlargement 58 through opening 50. Openings 50 will resiliently deform to permit enlargement 58 to snap therethrough upon application of a predetermined force to the looped portions of strap 18. In this manner, strap 18 can be manually released when desired or automatically released in response to a predetermined force applied to the looped portions thereof as when strap 18 is caught or when headgear 28 is inadvertently forcefully separated from a wearer.
In certain sporting events such as hockey and lacrosse, protective head pieces are employed which do not include a face guard or a protective chin strap. However, it is desirable to use a mouthguard for protecting the teeth and lips of a user. To this end, the protective mouthpiece of the present invention includes a pair of strap members 20 which can be detachably secured to mouthpiece 10 for attaching the same to a headgear. As illustrated in FIG. 8, such strap members 20'are employed to secure a mouthpiece to the side straps of a hockey helmet 24. It should be understood that other types of headgear can be used in conjunction with mouthpiece l0 and strap members 20 and that showing mouthpiece l0 fastened to side straps 22 of a 8 hockey helmet 24 by means of strap members 20 (FIG. 8).is one illustrative way of attaching mouthpiece 10 to a helmet and is in no way intended to limit the present invention to a particular manner of attachment to a particular type of headgear. For example, strap members 20 can be utilized to attach mouthpiece 10 to the,
opposite sides of a football helmet, if desired, to more positively maintain mouthpiece 10 in position in the users mouth.
Each strap member 20 comprises a flat band substantially wider than it is thick having a series of .circular openings 64 spaced lengthwise therealong adjacent one end for selective engagement with one of a pair of spaced bulbous enlargements 66 located adjacent opposite ends of lip shield 14 and extending outwardly from the outer curved surface thereof. Strap member 20 is preferably fonned of a resiliently yieldable plastic material and the engagement of enlargement 66 cross bar 76 spaced from strap member 20 but extending parallel thereto. The undersurface of cross bar 76 is provided with a longitudinal rib 78 (FIGS. 3 and 4) projecting toward opening 72 for a purpose hereinafter described. The space between strap member 20 and cross bar 76 defines an opening 80 through which the free end of strap member 20 is inserted and drawn through to form a loop 82 (FIG. 1) for attachment to a side strap or opening provided in the side of a headgear. A series of transversely extending ribs 84 are provided on the side of strap member 20 opposite cross bar 76. These ribs 84 are spaced lengthwise of strap member 20 from the free end thereof inwardly toward enlargement 68, the spacing between adjacent ribs 84 approximating the width of cross bar 76.
In attaching mouthpiece 10 to a headgear by means of strap members 20, enlargements 66 are inserted through selected openings 64 in strap members 20 to secure the same to opposite sides of mouthpiece 10. The free ends of strap members 20 are looped about side straps 22 'or openings in opposite sides of a headgear such as shown at 24 in FIG. 8. The free ends of strap members 20 are then inserted in openings 80 defined by crossbars 76 with the respective strap members 20 and pulled through to the extent desired. Because of the resiliency of the material of which strap members 20 are formed, rib 78 of cross bar 76 and the area of strap member 20 about opening 80 resiliently yield and deform to permit passage of the free end of strap member 20 through such opening. With strap members 20 adjusted to the proper effective length, the free ends thereof tend to remain fixed due to the engagement of ribs 84 with the opposite sides of cross bar 76 as shown in FIG. 3. Also, rib 78 of cross bar 76 urges a portion of strap member 20 partially into opening 72 to firmly secure strap members 20 in their selected adjusted positions.
through a selected opening 64 is a snap through'en- The above dual strap arrangement maintains mouthpiece 10 in place and prevents inadvertent ejection or forceful removal of mouthguard 12 from the users mouth during strenuous physical activities. Furthermore, the dual strap arrangement eliminates the necessity of continual biting or engagement of the users teeth with the mouthguard. Also, when using strap members 20, the mouthguard need not be custom fitted as described above and strap fastener 18 can be eliminated, if desired. The dual strap arrangement is easily adjusted and enables mouthguard 12 to be readily removed from the users mouth. The dual strap mouthpiece 10 is particularly useful in conjunction with headpieces which do not customarily employ face guards or protective chin straps, such as the headpiece illustrated in FIG. 8 for example. However, it should be understood that the dual strap mouthpiece can be used with any type of headgear, as desired.
From the foregoing, it is apparent that the objects of the present invention have been fully accomplished. As a result of this invention, an improved custom fitted mouthpiece is provided and comprises a combined mouthguard and lip shield for protecting the users teeth and lip region, respectively. By the provision of a web member formed integral with the mouthguard and lip shield and extending therebetween, the lip shield is spaced forwardly of the users lip and cheek regions to prevent chafling and irritation thereto, and in conjunction with central depressions formed at the. upper and lower edges of the lip shield provides relative ease of breathing and speaking. Also, the web member serves to absorb impact energy before transmission to the lip region to minimize injury thereto. By the provision of a dual strap arrangement, the mouthguard can be securely held in position in the users mouth and the necessity of continual biting or engagement of the user's teeth with the mouthguard is eliminated.
A preferred embodiment of this invention having been disclosed in detail, it is to be understood that this has been done by way of illustration only.
l. A protective mouthpiece comprising 'a mouthguard adapted to be disposed in protective position about a users teeth and a shield adapted to be disposed in protective position about a users lip, a web member connecting said lip shield to said mouthguard, said mouthguard comprising a generally U-shaped cushion having a bight portion and opposite leg portions and rims upstanding from the inner and outer peripheral edges of said cushion bight and leg portions, I said rims and their upper edges being configured to conform comfortably about the upper teeth of a user and said rims and cushion forming a generally U- shaped trough opening upwardly through the top of the mouthguard for substantially protectively encasing the upper teeth of a user, the forward central portion of the outer rim serving as a protective barrier between the users upper front teeth and lip and the upper edge of said forward central outer rim portion having a depression to accommodate the frenum of a user, said web member projecting forwardly from said mouthguard a distance greater than the spacing between said inner and outer rims at the juncture thereof with said bight portion of said cushion for normally locating said lip shield outwardly from the external contours of the users lip region in spaced relation thereto to prevent chafi'mg and irritation to the lip region and provide greater impact energy absorption through said web member before transmission to the lip region, said mouthpiece being formed of a thermoplastic material and adapted to be custom fitted to the users mouth. 2. A protective mouthpiece according to claim 1 wherein said mouthguard, shield and web member comprise a unitary, one-piece construction.
- 3. A protective mouthpiece according to claim 2 together with a fastener means comprising an'elongated flexible strap formed integral with a central portion of said lip shield and projecting outwardly therefrom for looping engagement about connecting portions of a protective headgear.
4. A protective mouthpiece according to claim 3 wherein-saidelongated flexible strap has at least one opening intermediate its ends and a connector at the other end thereof insertable through said opening for looping attachment about said connecting portions of said protective headgear.
5. A protective mouthpiece according to claim 1 including a pair of elongated flexible strap members secured to said lip shield adjacent opposite ends thereof for securing said mouthpiece to a protective headgear.
6. A protective mouthpiece according to claim 5 wh rein ach tr e 'sse ed ato e end to en; porti on of 1p and iizis a POI'ELIOH exten ble linearly to change the effective length-of said strap member.
'8. A protective mouthpiece according to claim 7 I wherein said securing means includesan enlargement having a crossbar spaced from said strap member and defining an opening for receiving said reversely bent portion of said strap member. 1 v
9. A protective mouthpiece according to claim 8 wherein said reversely bent portion of said strap member is provided with a plurality of transverse ribs longitudinally spaced a distance approximating the width of said crossbar for selective positioning on opposite sides of said crossbar.
10. A protective mouthpiece according to claim 8 wherein said enlargement includes a second opening and said crossbar has a rib extending lengthwise thereof and facing said second opening for urging a portion of said reversely bent portion of said strap member'into said second opening.
11. A mouthpiece as set forth in claim 1, wherein said lip shield is provided with arcuatelyshaped depressions centrally along the upper and lower edges thereof.
12. A protective mouthpiece according to claim 5 wherein each strap member is detachably secured adjacent one end thereof to an end portion of said lip shield. j
13. A protective mouthpiece according to claim 12' wherein each of said strap members is provided with at least two openings therethrough spaced lengthwise therealong adjacent said one end thereof, and bulbous enlargements projecting from said lip shield adjacent said opposite ends thereof, said strap members being formed of a resiliently yieldable material and adapted to receive said enlargements through selected ones of said openings for snap through engagement therewith.