US 3834404 A
An illustrative embodiment of the present invention includes a dental floss holding apparatus having a novel and efficient means for attaching dental floss between a pair of spaced apart arm members which hold the length of floss disposed therebetween in a taut condition. If the floss is broken during usage, the short broken portion may be quickly and easily discarded and the novel floss attaching means utilized to rapidly recondition the floss holder for continued usage.
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent 1191 Chien Sept. 10, 1974 [5 DENTAL FLOSS HOLDER APPARATUS 3,631,869 1/1912 Espinosa 132/91  Inventor: Chiu-Ying Wong Chien, 4629 Creekbend, Houston, Tex. 77035 9 9  F1 d J l 13 1973 Attorney, Agent, or Fzrm-W1ll1am J. Beard 1e uy [211 App]. No.: 378,985  ABSTRACT An illustrative embodiment of the present invention 52 US. Cl. 132/91 includes a dental floss holding apparatus having 11 51 1m. (:1. A61c 15/00 novel and efficient means for attaching dental  Field of Search 132/91 92, 89, 90 twee" a Pair of spaced aPart arm members which hold the length of floss disposed therebetween in a taut  References Cited condition. If the floss is broken during usage, the short UNITED STATES PATENTS broken portion may be quickly and easily discarded and the novel floss attaching means utilized to rapidly a??? recondition the floss holder for. continued usage. 2:s73:749 2/1959 Gverde III:III:IIIIIIIIIIIIII: 132 91 4 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures PAIENTED SEP 1 01914 FIG. 3.
DENTAL FLOSS HOLDER APPARATUS BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention This invention relates generally to apparatus for cleaning spaces between the teeth and, more particularly, relates to improved apparatus for holding a short length of dental floss tautly and for allowing this short length of floss to be articulated as desired to cleanse the spaces between the teeth of the user.
2. Brief Description of the Prior Art Many attempts have been made in the prior art to provide a simple, economical and usefully articulate apparatus for holding and positioning dental floss or the like to clean the hard to reach spaces between the molar teeth of the user. Examples of prior art attempts to provide such apparatus are seen in US. Pat. Nos. 1,958,505; 1,166,732, 1,217,264; 2,510,194; 2,81 1,162; and 2,029,031. For various reasons such as bulky size, inconvenience of use, the requirement of a special tooth cleaning agent, or noneconomic price, none of the prior art devices has met with commercial success or user acceptance.
Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide an improved apparatus for holding dental floss to allow easy usage in hard to reach portions of the users mouth, which is simple, economical and usefully articulate.
A further object of the presentinvention is to provide an improved dental floss holder which is much faster to use than prior art devices in the sense that it is much easier to position new floss on the holder for instant access in case of floss breakage during usage.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION The above and other objects and features of the invention are provided in an improved dental floss holder having novel means for retaining a short length of floss in a taut position between two spaced apart arm members by frictional engagement with a semi-circumferential floss holding grooves in conjunction with a floss terminating anchor having either a resilient floss retaining member as a frictional floss retaining member. The spaced apart arm members are supported by an elongated handle member sized for convenient grasping by the user and are inclined at an angle to the plane of the handle member to allow ready positioning of the taut floss between the most hard to reach spaces of the users teeth. The novel means of retaining the floss on the conveniently sized holder allows an entire roll offloss to conveniently be held in the hand of the user and simultaneously attached to the device. Upon breakage of the taut portion of floss between the two spaced arm members in usage the broken portion is merely discarded and the roll of floss, which is in engagement with the floss terminating anchor at one end, is rewound between the two spaced arm members in a rapid manner.
The inventive concepts are pointed out with particularity in the appended claims. The invention is best understood by reference to the following detailed description thereof when taken in conjunction with the drawings, in which:
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE'DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the dental floss holder of the invention;
FIG. 2 is a plan view of the dental floss holder of the invention from the side thereof containing the floss terminating anchor;
FIG. 3 is a side view of the dental floss holder of th invention;
FIG. 4 is an enlarged plan view showing in more detail two examples of the novel floss holding grooves of the invention; i i
FIG. 5 is a sectional view (taken through section 55 of FIG. 4) showing nine examples of possible designs for the bottom portion of the floss holding grooves; and
FIG. 6 is a sectional view (taken through section 66 of FIG. 2) showing two examples of possible designs for the floss terminating anchor of the invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Referring initially to FIGS. 1 and 2 a dental floss holder embodying the concepts of the invention is shown in a perspective view. The floss holder may be seen generally to comprise two spaced apart arm members 11 which are partof a one piece molding which adjoin a longitudinally extending handle portion 13 which is sized and shaped for easy grasping by the hand of the user. The floss holder of FIG. 1 may, as previously-r'nentioned comprise a one piece molding of a plastic material such as polystyrene which is easily and relatively economically formed by injection'molding processes as known in the art.
Each of the spaced apart arm members 11 are provided near their longitudinaltip ends with circumferential or semi-circumferentialfloss holding grooves 15, which will be described in more detail subsequently. At the center of the juncture of the two spaced apart arm members 11 and the handle portion 13 on one of its sides the floss holder is provided with a transversely extensive floss terminating anchor 12 which will be described in more detail subsequently. If desired (as in the embodiment of anchor 12 shown in FIG. 2) the floss terminating anchor 12 may be provided with a resilient floss gripping member 16. However, it will be understood that .the resilient member 16 is not required.
A length of dental floss 14, for example'from a roll of same (not shown), is depicted in FIG. 1 as it would be positioned when the dental floss holder is ready for usage. To position the floss 14, first, from the loose roll end or one end of a long piece one turn (or more if desired) is taken about the floss terminating anchor 12. The floss 14 is then pulled upwardly across either of the spaced apart arm members 11 and wound two or three turns about its floss holding groove 15. Then, keeping Referring now to FIG. 3 it is seen that the spaced apart arm members 11 of the floss holder are inclined atan angle to the plane of the handle portion 13 of the holder. Any angle between 91 and 175 may be used for this purpose but generally an angle approximately as shown in FIG. 3 is preferable for this purpose. The angled arms 11 make it easy for the user to reach down between rear teeth to the gum line with the taut portion of the floss 14 between the spaced arm members 11. This feature, together with the convenient opening between the arm members 1 1 (approximately in the range 15 to 30 millimeters) allows the floss 14 to be manipulated by the user between the most hard to reach teeth without the undue discomfort of having to open the mouth too widely. The floss holder keeps the taut portion of the floss 14 between the spaced apart arm members 11 perpendicular to the handle portion 13 at all times. This feature allows a better scraping action as the floss 14 is manipulated between the teeth than possible with some of the prior art designs. Additionally, the rounded tips of arm members 11 together with their convenient length (approximately in the range of 25 millimeters) minimize uncomfortable contacts between the floss holder and the interior portion of the users mouth as the holder is being manipulated.
Referring now to FIGS. 4 and the floss holding grooves are depicted in more detail. Each of the grooves 15 has a relatively narrow width (.5 to 1.5 millimeters) or a narrow width with tapered side portions (as in groove 1.5a as of FIG. 4) such that when the 2 or 3 turns of floss are placed in the groove the floss is forced to overlap itself. This overlapping provides a frictional force which, when taken in conjunction with the several sharp angled turns which the floss 14 is forced to make (as indicated by the cross section views of FIG. 5) in passing around the arm 11 inside the groove 15, is entirely adequate to retain the tautness of the floss l4 suspended between the arms 11. This frictional force retains the floss in position without placing undue weakening stress on it as would some of the V shaped notch designs used in the prior art for this purpose. Such V shaped notches can cause excessive pressure and stress on the floss at their apex and cause it to break rather easily when subjected to the forces applied to it during a vigorus cleaning operation. Additionally, the frictional forces provided by the novel shape of grooves 15 provide adequate force to retain the tautnessof the floss 14 without the annoyance of knot tying, as required by some of the prior art devices.
Referring now to FIG. 6, the floss terminating anchor 12 is shown in more detail and in two embodiments. The anchor 12 may comprise a shaft having an enlarged head portion which is affixed to the handle portion 13 of the floss holder. The head portion is spaced from the handle 13 a sufficient distance to allow the floss to take several turns thereunder. In one embodiment a resilient floss retaining member 16 which may comprise a rubber O-ring or the like is provided on the bottom shoulder of the head portion of the anchor 12. In another embodiment shown in FIG. 6 the shoulder of the anchor 12 on the side of the handle portion 13 is provided with a downwardly sloping shoulder. In either embodiment when one or more complete turns of floss 14 are passed about the anchor 12, a frictional force sufficient to retain the floss is achieved, either by the wedging force of the downwardly sloping shoulder or the internal restoring forces of the resilient member 16. Thus, a suitable termination is provided for the ends of the floss.
If the floss breaks between spaced arms 11 during usage, the short portion thereof which is broken is merely unwound and discarded. This always leaves the floss roll end (or end of a long piece, if that is used) on the floss termination anchor 12 and also attached to one of the arm members 11. The portion attached to the anchor 12 may then be detached. The floss may then be rewound by winding in the groove 15 about the opposite arm member 11 (2 or more turns) and about the floss termination anchor 12 (one turn). This winding process is rapidly performed and the user is again ready to use the floss in the cleaning operation.
The above description may make other arrangements obvious to those skilled in the art. It is therefore the aim in the appended claims to cover any such variations as fall within the true spirit and scope of the invention.
1. Apparatus for retaining a relatively short length of dental floss in a taut condition and for positioning and manipulating the taut length of dental floss in hard to reach areas of a users mouth, comprising:
a one piece moldable dental floss holding member having a handle portion sized and adapted for convenient grasping by one hand of a user and having, at one end thereof, a pair of straight longitudinally extending arm members, said arm members lying in a plane with each other and spaced apart a distance sufficient to allow a relatively short length of dental floss disposed therebetween to be of sufficient length to span the largest molar tooth of a user, but a short enough distance to allow easy insertion of the device into a users mouth without opening the mouth unduly widely, the plane of said pair of spaced arm members being inclined at an obtuse angle with respect to the plane of said handle portion, said handle portion and each of said arm members having an end portion and edge portions being of a generally rounded configuration to avoid uncomfortable contact with the inside of a users mouth, each of said arm members having, near the end thereof, a relatively narrow floss retaining groove ofgenerally at least semi-circumferential extent and of a depth adequate to contain therein at least two turns of conventional dental floss overlying each other, the plane section of each of said arm members through said floss retaining grooves being generally different from the section through other portions thereof in that such floss retaining groove plane sections comprise a quadrilateral polygon having at least two interior angles less than or equal to two or more turns of floss being wound in said grooves and about the sharp edges of said quadrilateral polygon plane section thereof and overlying each other providing sufficient frictional force to retain tautness in the relatively short length of floss suspended between said arm members, and floss anchoring means on said handle portion, said anchoring means comprising a shaft member integral with said handle portion and of a first diameter, and a head member of a second, larger diameter than said shaft member and suspended by said shaft member a relatively short distance above the plane of said handle portion, the surface of said head member toward said handle portion being generally parallel to the plane of said handle portion to provide a generally U-shaped or sectioned circumferential groove about said shaft generally tapering to a second width at the bottom por tion thereof.
3. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein said floss retaining grooves have said second width approximately equal to the width of ordinary dental floss.
4. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said floss retaining grooves are of a width'approximately equal to the width of ordinary dental floss.