US 3734107 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
0 United States Patent 1 [1 3,734,107
Thierman [451 May 22, 1973  DENTAL FLOSS TOOTH CLEANING TOOL Primary ExaminerAntonio F. Guida Assistant Examiner-Gregory E. McNeil]  Inventor: Irwin B. Thlerman, 8817 N. Swenson St., Portland, Oreg. 97203 Ammey Eugene Eckelma"  Filed: Nov. 12, 1971  ABSTRACT  Appl. No.: 198,263 A tool for holding dental floss and being capable of being manipulated for cleaning interproximal areas between the teeth. The tool has a body member sup-  US. Cl. ..l32/92 A porting a supply spool of dental floss and a takeqlp II.- C Spool A p of arms p j from the member Fleld 0! Search 90, 92 R, and h downturned fi g across which dental floss 132/92 A between the supply spool and take-up spool is stretched tightly. The dental floss being supported References cued across the fingers can be worked between the teeth by suitable manipulation of the tool. The supply spool of UNITED STATES PATENTS dental floss and the take-up spool have a rotatable 3,340,881 9/1967 Cowan ..132/92 R connection with each other such that when new dental 2,450,635 10/1948 Dembenski.. ....132/92 A floss is presented to the fingers such floss is simultane- 1,815,408 7/1931 Jordan 1 ..132/9l ously taken up and tight 1,667,134 4/1928 Sherwood ..l32/9l 3,289,681 12/1966 Chambers ..l32/92 R 5 Claims, 8 Drawing Figures PAIENTEUW W 3,734,107
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INVENTOR. IRWIN a. HIERMAN 5 W) MM ATTY.
DENTAL FLOSS TOOTH CLEANING TOOL BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to a new and novel tool for holding a supply of dental floss and for presenting a portion thereof on the tool for working in interproximal areas between the teeth.
Dental floss is usually supplied in small spools, and for the purpose of using the floss between the teeth, a short length is cut off and wrapped around fingers on opposite hands. In order to obtain a good grip on the floss, it must be wrapped securely around the fingers. In doing this and in the manipulating operation of the dental floss, the latter tends to cut into the fingers, shutoff thecirculation, and otherwise be uncomfortable and inefficient in use. Also, in order to use the floss in this manner, it is necessary that several inches be separated from the spool in order that a good grip can be obtained thereon. Thus, considerable wastage is involved.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION According to the present invention and forming a primary objective thereof, a tool is provided which holds a supply of dental floss and which presents a portion of the dental floss for working between the teeth.
More particular objects of the present invention are to provide a dental floss tooth cleaning tool having a body member which holds a supply of dental floss, the tool having a pair of projecting arms with outer fingers across which dental floss from the supply means is suspended to present a dental floss portion capable of being worked in the interproximal areas between the teeth; to provide such a tool having supply and take-up spools in the body member rotatably connected with each other so that as dental floss is unrolled from the supply spool, it is taken up by the take-up spool; to provide such a rotatable connection between said supply and take-up spools which is arranged to apply a tension to the dental floss so that it will be taut at all times, and also to provide a rotatable connection between the supply and take-up spools which employs pulleys and an elastic belt whereby the elastic belt stores energy to insure that the dental floss is maintained in a taut condition.
The invention will be better understood and additional objects and advantages will become apparent from the following description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings which illustrate a preferred form of the device.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a dental floss tooth cleaning tool embodying features of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a foreshortened top plan view of the tool with parts thereof broken away to show internal structure;
FIG. 3 is a vertical sectional view taken on the line 3-3 of FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is a horizontal sectional view taken on the line 4-4 of FIG. 3;
FIG. 5 is a transverse sectional view, slightly enlarged, taken on the line 5-5 of FIG. 2;
FIG. 6 is an end elevational view of the tool taken on the line 6--6 of FIG. 3;
FIG. 7 is an enlarged fragmentary elevational view taken on the line 7-7 of FIG. 2; and
FIG. 8 is an elevational view, slightly enlarged, of a supply spool apart from the other structure, taken on the line 8-8 of FIG. 2.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring now in particular to the drawings and first to FIGS. 1-5, the dental floss tooth cleaning tool of the present invention comprises a hollow body member 10 which in its overall shape and size is adapted to be gripped by one hand. The body member has a bottom wall 12, a peripheral wall 14 which extends around the sides and ends of the body member, and a cover 16. Cover 16 extends over the top of the body member and partly down one side in a flanged portion 16a, FIGS. 5 and 7. As best seen in these latter two figures, flange portion 16a has a pair of integral oppositely extending stub shaft portions 18 which are received in opposed pockets 19 formed in the body portion adjacent the lower end of flange 16a. Stub shaft portions 18 are rotatable in pockets l9 and thus form a hinge support for the cover 16.
The cover is held releasably in. closed position bya latch finger 20 integral with the body member and projecting through an aperture 21 in the cover. The parts are arranged such that finger 20 has an interference engagement with one defining edge of the opening, namely, the left edge as viewed in FIG. 5, for accomplishing the releasable locking function. Release of the cover from its closed position is accomplished by distorting the parts slightly, such as by applying opposing pressure between the side of the body member and the top of the finger 20, as shown in FIG. 5. The cover is shown in a partly open position in FIG. 5 by phantom lines, and it is to be understood that it can be swung open wide for access to the interior of the body member.
Body member 10 has a horizontal dividing wall 22, FIGS. 2, 3, 5 and 7, and as best seen in FIG. 2, the upper chamber as formed by the wall 22 has a vertical partition 24 with a longitudinally extending portion 24a and a lateral portion 24b, the portion 24a leading from the front of the body member and the portion 24b connecting with the side of the body member forward of the rearward end. Disposed on one side of partition 24 is a supply spool or roll 26, FIGS. 2, 3, 5 and 8, removably mounted on a shaft 28 having rotatable support in wall 22 and also in bottom wall 12. Spool 26 has a spline connection 30 with the shaft 28 for driving rotation therewith and such spool can be removed from the shaft merely by lifting it off the end thereof, assuming of course that the cover 16 is first opened. Spool 26 comprises a supply spool for dental floss 32 and has an anchor pin 34, FIG. 2, on its drum portion to which the end of the dental floss is tied.
A take-up spool or roll 36 is disposed in the upper chamber portion of body member 10 on the other side of partition 24 from the supply spool. This spool has a spline connection 38, FIG. 3, with a shaft 40 journaled in the wall 22 and side wall 14 of the body member 10. Spool 36, similar to spool 26, is adapted to be lifted off the end of the shaft upon opening the cover 16 of the body member, and may have suitable means, not shown, on its drum portion for securing an end of the dental floss thereto. Spool 36 is arranged such that denta] floss to be wound thereon extends into the body member along the portion 24a of the partition 24 opposite from the spool 26.
With particular reference to FIGS. 3 and 4, the shafts 28 and 40 have pulley or drum portions 42 and 44, respectively, engaged by an O-ring belt 46 to establish a drive connection between the two spools whereby when one spool is rotated, the other one will also rotate. Spool 36 has one way rotation by means of a ratchet wheel 50 secured on the shaft 40 and engageable by a pawl 52 forming an integral part of a pair of posts 54 secured between walls 22 and 12 of the body member 10. The pawl is made of a plastic or semiflexible material which while having sufflcient rigidity to engage the back side of the teeth of the ratchet wheel and hold it against reversing, it is sufficiently flexible to ride over the teeth and pick up the next tooth as the ratchet wheel is rotated. The rearward end of the housing has a horizontal slot 56 and the ratchet wheel 50 projects a short distance outwardly of the slot so as to permit the operator to rotate the ratchet wheel by one finger.
The wall 22 has a short post 58 in the supply roll chamber. This post is for holding an extra supply spool 60.
Projecting integrally from the forward end of body member in substantially parallel relation is a pair of arms 62 terminating in an outer head portion 64. Head portion 64 includes a downturned end portion or finger 66 on each arm 62 and an interconnecting web 67. Each of the arms 62 has a longitudinal groove 68 in the top outer side thereof. These grooves extend the full length of the arms 62 and also extend down the front outer edge of downturned fingers 66. Cross grooves 70 are provided in the bottom edge of the fingers 66 at about the inner corner of the groove 68. The forward wall of body member 10 has openings 74, one of which is shown in FIG. 3, aligned with each of the groove portions 68 so that floss from the two spools is capable of extending forwardly along the arms, as will now be described.
To load the tool with dental floss, a supply spool 26 is mounted on the shaft 28 and a free end of the dental floss 32 pulled out through the aligned opening 74 and along the groove 68 of arm 62 on that side. It is then passed down the front groove in the finger 66 of the one arm and then across the notches 70. Thereupon, such end is brought up the groove 68 in the other finger 66 and along the groove 68 in the other arm 62. Such free end is moved through opening 74 which is aligned with said other arm and then connected to the take-up spool 36. Take-up spool 36 is rotated in the direction of arrow 76, FIGS. 2 and 4, by manual engagement of ratchet wheel 50 to tighten the dental floss.
. The arrangement of the spools 26 and 36 is such that when spool 36 is rotated in the direction of arrow 76, it will take up floss and spool 26 will rotate in the direction of arrow 78 to release floss. The pulley 42 is larger in diameter than pulley 44 and their drive relationship from the belt 46 will thus cause the floss to be taken up on spool 36 a little faster than it is released from supply spool 26. This drive relationship exists throughout the entire range from full clean spool and empty soiled spool condition to empty clean spool and full soiled spool condition. Since the pulleys are of different diameter, some slippage of the belt thereon will occur. A round O-ring type pulley engageable with flat surface pulleys has been found to provide the desired connection between the drums and the necessary slippage. Thus, as the operator rotates the ratchet wheel 50, the floss will tighten and remain stretched in a taut condition along the length of the arms and across the notches in fingers 70. Belt 46 as stated above is preferably of an elastic material so that as the ratchet wheel is rotated to a new position with relation to its pawl, the belt will be stretched, and if the floss should stretch slightly when the operator is using the tool, the stored energy in the belt will automatically take up such slack in the floss. As stated, the spool 36 takes up floss fastener than the spool 26 releases it. The stress at which the belt will slip is preselected since it is desired that the floss be held tight but at the same time allowed to slip before it breaks.
In summary, the present tool provides a convenient means of holding dental floss and of manipulating the floss for cleaning interproximal areas between the teeth. When it is desired to present clean floss to the head 64, it is merely necessary to rotate the ratchet wheel only sufficiently to bring new floss into the suspended area between the fingers 66. The used floss is isolated from the new floss by a partition 24.
It is to be understood that the form of my invention herein shown and described is to be taken as a preferred example of the same and that various changes in the shape, size and arrangement of parts may be resorted to without departing from the spirit of my invention, or the scope of the subjoined claims.
Having thus described my invention, I claim:
1. A dental floss tooth cleaning tool comprising a ho]- low body member, a pair of projections supported on said body member in spaced relation, means on said projections for holding dental floss in suspended relation thereacross, said projections being spaced apart sufficiently from each other such that by manipulation of the tool dental floss suspended thereacross can be worked in an area between teeth for cleaning such area, a supply spool in said body member, a shaft in said body member mounting said supply spool for rotation, a take-up spool in said body member receiving floss from. said supply spool which first extends from said supply spool across said projections, a shaft in said body member mounting said take-up spool for rotation, a pulley on each said shaft connected by a belt, the pulley on said supply spool shaft being larger than the pulley on said take-up spool shaft so that said take-up spool will automatically take up floss faster than it is released from said supply spool to cause said floss between the spools to be stretched tight, said belt having a slippage connection on said pulleys at a selected tension of the dental floss to allow for any difference in rate of take-up or release and being elastic to store energy resulting from the greater rate of take-up by said take-up spool to automatically maintain the dental floss taut across said projections.
2. The dental floss cleaning tool of claim 1 including a ratchet wheel operably connected to one of said supply and take-up spools for advancing the dental floss across said projections, a portion of said ratchet wheel projecting from said body member to provide ready manipulation thereof by the operator.
3. The dental floss cleaning tool of claim 1 wherein said body member includes a pair of compartments one for each of said supply and take-up spools whereby to isolate one spool from the other.
5. The dental floss cleaning tool of claim 1 wherein said body member includes a pair of compartments one for each of said supply and take-up spools whereby to isolate one spool from the other, said spools being arranged for axial removal from said shafts for replacement, and a cover on said body member arranged to be opened for access to said spools.