US 3882879 A
A dental flossing instrument having a renewable floss supply bobbin at one end of an elongate body and a pair of spaced tines at the other end of the body. The tines extend at an angle to the body and floss is threaded from the supply bobbin through the body, across the space between the ends of the tines, and back to the end of the body containing the floss supply. A lever hinged to the body secures both ends of the threaded length of floss at a point near the supply bobbin and at the same time causes the path of the length of floss to increase in length so as to cause tension to be generated in the floss. Means for severing used floss is also disclosed. A mirror mounted on the floss supply end of the body is used for oral inspection.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Lucas May 13, 1975 DENTAL FLOSSING INSTRUMENTS Primary E.\'aminerG. E. McNeil]  Inventor: Jack R. Lucas, 6500 Sepulveda Blvd, No. 103, Van Nuys, Calif. 91401 ABSTRACT A dental flossing instrument having a renewable floss  Filed 1973 supply bobbin at one end of an elongate body and a  Appl. No.: 346,725 pair of spaced tines at the other end of the body. The tines extend at an angle to the body and floss is 521 US. Ci 132/92 R threaded fmm the Supply through t body across the space between the ends of the tines, and  Int. Cl. A6lc 15/00 back to the end of the body containing the floss sup  Field of Search 132/92, 91, 90, 84,
32/40 R ply. A lever hinged to the body secures both ends of the threaded length of floss at a point near the supply  References Cited bobbin and at the same time causes the path of the length of floss to increase in length so as to cause ten- UNITED STATES PATENTS sion to be generated in the floss. Means for severing Fickes used floss is also disclosed A mirror mounted on the 2176969 10/1939 Gouletw 132/91 floss supply end of the body is used for oral inspec- 2,l82.525 ii/l939 May 132/92 R tion 2,l87,442 l/l94() Beach 132/92 R 14 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures PATENTH] HAY I 3I975 DENTAL FLOSSING INSTRUMENTS BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention This invention relates to dental flossing instruments.
2. Prior Art The desirability of removing particles of food from between the teeth as a regular oral hygiene procedure has been known to dentists for many years. Dentists have encouraged their patients to utilize dental floss on a regular basis, and such use presumably has not only aesthetic value but hygienic value in reducing the incidence of dental problems.
Originally floss was sold to the public without a hold ing device and one simply held the floss taut in the hand and proceeded to force the taut strand of floss between the teeth to effect the cleaning of the crevice.
Recently several devices have come on the market which serve to hold a span of floss taut so that the teeth may be flossed without the necessity of inserting the fingers in the mouth. Some of these devices have integral floss supplies, but those that have do not have the floss supply remote from the working spanof floss so that it is not convenient to use these devices in the back of the mouth on the side teeth. None of the prior art floss dispensers include a tension generating member, tension in the floss being applied by the user.
The invented dispenser overcomes these shortcomings in the prior art dispensers in providing an easy-touse flossing device having an integral floss supply and an automatic tensioning device.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a top view of a presently preferred embodiment of the dental flossing instrument.
FIG. 2 is a partially sectioned side view of the dental flossing instrument of FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a bottom view of the dental flossing instrument of FIG. 1.
FIG. 4 is an enlarged sectional view of a portion of the body of the dental flossing instrument.
FIG. 5 is an enlarged sectional view of the floss suply. p FIG. 6 is an enlarged side view of one of the tines of the dental flossing instrument.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The dental floss dispenser of the present invention as described herein in a presently preferred embodiment is preferably made of plastic and utilizes a pair of spaced tines to hold a tensioned span of floss with which the spaces between the teeth can be cleaned. The tines are positioned at an angle to an elongated body which serves as a handle allowing the floss span to be positioned to clean both posterior and anterior teeth without the necessity of putting the fingers in the mouth. A supply of fresh floss is stored on a bobbin located at the end of the body opposite the tines.
The floss is threaded from the bobbin, through a channel in the body to the tines, across the space between the ends of the tines and back through the channel to the end of the body which contains supply bobbin. A tensioning member is hinged to the body near the bobbin supply end. In its closed position, the tensioning member occupies the space within the channel, with opposed protrusions in the channel and on the tensioning member meshing to generate tension in the floss.
A piece of metal having a sharp edge is inlaid in the side of the channel and serves to sever used floss so that it may be discarded.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION Referring now to the drawings, where the dental floss dispenser of this invention is shown having a curved elongate body 10 with one end formed into two tines 11 and 12. The tines as shown in the presently preferred embodiment are substantially parallel but could extend to an angle to each other. The plane of the tines 11 and 12 is at an angle to the length of the body 10. The angle is not critical, but I have found that an angle of about 30 is optimum in that it allows both posterior and anterior teeth to be flossed with equal ease and comfort.
At the end of the body 10 opposite the tines is an enlarged substantially circular section 13 which is hollowed out leaving a cavity 15 to receive a floss supply bobbin 14. A mirror 16 is glued on the closed exterior face of section 13. The hollowed out section 13 and consequently mirror 16 make an angle of about 30 to the body 10 so that they are about parallel to the plane of the tines 11 and 12. This angle is also not critical, but it has been found that 30 is a convenient value for the purpose of positioning mirror 16 in the mouth for inspection of the teeth. Inspecting teeth on the interior of the mouth is accomplished by holding the dental floss dispenser by the center portion 27 of body 10, inserting the mirror 16 into the mouth, and positioning it such that the reflection off mirror 16 of the tooth being inspected can be observed in a medicine cabinet mirror or other convenient external mirror.
A split spindle I7 protrudes into cavity 15 from the center of the bottom thereof for the purpose of holding the floss supply bobbin 14. The end 18 of the spindle 17 is enlarged so as to be slightly larger than the hole 19 in the floss supply bobbin 14. One end of hole 19 contains a countersink 20 which mates with enlargement 18 so that while the enlargement l8 retains the floss supply bobbin 14 in cavity 15, the bobbin is free to turn without excessive friction. Slot 21 allows the spindle 17 to be compressed enough so that enlargement 18 can pass through hole 19 when the bobbin is being replaced. A shallow recess 22 in the end of section 13 allows ones thumbnail to be inserted under the upper flange of bobbin 14 to pry it out of the cavity 15 for replacement purposes.
The underside of body 10 is cut out forming a channel 30 leading from the cavity 15 to the opening between tines II and 12. A plurality of protrusions 33 extend from the bottom of channel 30. The protrusions preferably cover the full width of the channel and extend partially into it. They are shown, in the illustrated presently preferred embodiment, as a truncated V- shape, but other shapes would also be satisfactory. A tension bar 31, hinged to body 10 at 32, fits into channel 30 occupying substantially its full width. Protrusions 34 from the bottom face of tension bar 31 match the valleys between protrusions 33 such that some space is left between the members when tension bar 31 is in the closed position 31 The space left is necessary to accommodate strands of floss which are threaded through the channel 30 as will be described later.
The tension bar 31 has a lip 35 at its free end which snaps over the end 36 of channel 30 thus securing the tension bar 31 in its position 31.
On the protrusion 34 closest to hinge 32 is a small nubbin 37. The back surface 38 of the protrusion 33 opposite nubbin 37 is shaped to match the locus of the end of nubbin 37 as tension bar 31 is closed. The spacing is such that strands of floss between the members will be pinched and secured at this point.
Near the end 36 of the channel 30, a pair of diagonal L-shaped slots 43 and 44 provide a path for strands of floss from channel 30 to the outside of body 10. The slots 43 and 44 are slightly larger in width than the diameter of the largest floss to be used.
The floss is urged into the undercut portion of L- shaped slots 43 and 44 by the action of pin 40 which extends from the bottom of channel 30 slightly forward of the slots 43 and 44. Side guides 41 and 42 protruding from the sides of channel 30 slightly behind pin 40 guide the floss to the central portion of channel 30 and assure that the floss engages the protrusions 33 and 34 rather than finding its way into the crack between the sides of tension bar 31 and channel 30. Tension bar 31 is cut out so that neither the pin 40 nor guides 41 or 42 interfere with the closing of the tension bar.
A groove 45 in the outer surface of tine 12 connects slot 44 with groove 47 at the end of tine 12, providing a guide for the floss. A similar groove 46 on tine 11 connects slot 43 with groove 48. Grooves 45 and 46 are large enough to allow floss to pass along them freely. Grooves 47 and 48 are larger at the root than at the mouth, the root being large enough to offer little resistance to the movement of the floss, but the mouth being small enough that some pressure is needed to make the floss pass. The purpose of this construction is to assure that the floss is retained in the grooves 47 and 48 during the time that new floss is being pulled into position and the floss is slack.
A web 50, having a hole 51, spans the channel 30 between the cavity and the tension arm hinge 32, providing a guide for the floss at that point.
Embedded in the side of channel 30 near hinge 32 is a knife 60. The cutting edge of knife 60 is flush with the open edge 61 of channel 30 so that a piece of floss between body 10 and tension bar 31, if held over the location of knife 60 will be severed when the tension bar is closed to position 31.
In use, a bobbin 14 containing a supply of dental floss is snapped over spindle 17 and the free end is threaded through hole 51 and between tension bar 31 and body 10 at hinge 32, the tension bar being open. The floss is then directed around pin 40 clockwise and thence into slot 43. Groove 43, slots 48 and 47, groove 45 and slot 44 lead the floss back to channel 30. A one quarter turn around pin 40, under tension bar 31 at hinge 32 and through hole 51 completes the threading operation.
To put tension in the floss, the loose end of the floss emerging from hole 51 is laid between tension bar 31 and body 10 as close to the juncture of the two as possible. The direction is such that the loose end is on the side of channel 30 containing knife 60.
Closing tension bar 31 to position 31 causes several things to happen in quick succession. First, the portion of floss overhanging knife 60 is cut off by scissors action between knife 60 and the tension bar 31. As tension bar 31 closes further, the floss is pinched between nubbin 37 and surface 38 and finally tension is created in the floss between tines 11 and 12 by the action of protrusions 33 and 34. The instrument can then be inserted in the mouth and the floss forced between the teeth as desired to clean particles of food, etc., from the interstices between the teeth.
To advance the floss so as to discard used floss and to provide a clean piece for use, the tension bar 31 is unsnapped from the closed position which releases the floss. The loose end emerging from hole 51 is pulled until the used floss is no longer between tines 11 and 12 or, if desired, until the used floss is no longer within the dispenser. Closing the tension bar cuts off the excess floss and puts the newly positioned floss in tension as previously described.
Due to the angle which tines 1 l and 12 make with the body 10, when the tension bar is open floss would have the tendency to drop out of slots 43 and 44 if slots 43 and 44 were merely simple slots. The L-shape and the effect of pin 40 holds the floss in the undercut region even when no tension exists and thereby prevents such a problem.
What has been described is a novel dental flossing instrument in a presently preferred embodiment. Various modifications and adaptions will be apparent to those skilled in the art and such are considered to be within the spirit of the invention as set forth in the appended claims.
1. A dental flossing instrument which comprises:
a. a body;
b. a pair of spaced tines protruding from said body, said tines being spaced a predetermined distance and adapted to hold a span of floss therebetween;
0. means for securing a length of floss at two spaced points along said length of floss, said spaced points encompassing said span of floss; and
d. means for generating tension in said length of floss between said secured points which comprises a pair of mating members, the path of said length of floss being between the mating portion of said mating members, said portion of said length of floss being engaged by said mating members to cause the path of said portion of said length of floss to deviate from a straight line thereby increasing path length.
2. A dental flossing instrument as recited in claim 1 wherein the mating portions of said mating members are non planar surfaces whereby the path length of said length of floss is increased as said mating surfaces approach one another.
3. A dental flossing instrument as recited in claim 2 wherein said non planar surfaces comprise at least one protrusion from the first of said mating surfaces and a corresponding depression in the second of said mating surfaces whereby the path of floss between said mating members will be deflected into said depression by said protrusion as said mating members approach one another.
4. A dental flossing instrument as recited in claim 3 wherein said body contains a passageway for said length of floss and one of said mating surfaces is a surface in said passageway.
5. A dental flossing instrument as recited in claim 4 where said securing means secures said points on said length of floss within said passageway.
6. A dental flossing instrument as recited in claim 5 where said securing means comprises a hinged member hinged to said body, said points on said length of floss being secured by being pinched between said hinged member and said body when said hinged member is moved to a predetermined position.
7. A dental flossing instrument as recited in claim 1 and further including a floss supply holder attached to said body and wherein the mating portions of said mating members are non planar surfaces whereby the path length of said length of floss is increased as said mating surfaces approach one another.
8. A dental flossing instrument as recited in claim 7 wherein said non planar surfaces comprise at least one protrusion from the first of said mating surfaces and a corresponding depression in the second of said mating surfaces whereby the path of floss between said mating members will be deflected into said depression by said protrusion as said mating members approach one another.
9. A dental flossing instrument as recited in claim 8 wherein said body contains a passageway for said length of floss and one of said mating surfaces is a surface in said passageway.
10. A dental flossing instrument as recited in claim 9 where said securing means secures said points on said length of floss within said passageway.
11. A dental flossing instrument as recited in claim 10 where said securing means comprises a hinged member hinged to said body, said points on said length of floss being secured by being pinched between said hinged member and said body when said hinged member is moved to a predetermined position.
12. A dental flossing instrument as recited in'claim l1 and further including floss severing means operable by said mating members for severing used floss.
13. A dental flossing instrument which comprises:
a. an elongated body, said body having a channel for the passage of floss running substantially along the length of said body;
b. a pair of tines protruding from one end of said body, said tines being spaced a predetermined distance and having grooved ends for holding a span of floss therebetween;
c. a floss supply holder at the other end of said body;
(1. a hinged member hinged to said body adjacent to said floss supply holder;
e. a first protrusion on said hinged member, said protrusion approaching a surface of said channel when said hinged member is moved to a predetermined position with respect to said body, whereby a length of floss threaded between said protrusion and said channel, through said channel, across the span between the ends of said tines, back through said channel, and between said protrusion and said channel will be secured at the two points on said length of floss between said hinged member and said channel;
f. a second protrusion on said hinged member; and
g. a depression in a surface of said channel positioned to mate with said second protrusion whereby when said hinged member is moved to secure said floss, said protrusion will cause the path length of said length of floss to be increased, thereby generating tension in said length of floss.
14. A dental flossing instrument as recited in claim 13 and further including a sharpened edge on said body adjacent to said hinged member whereby floss placed between said edge and said hinged member will be severed when said hinged member is moved to said predetermined position.