This application is a continuation-in-part application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/983,378 filed Nov. 8, 2007, which is incorporated by reference herein.
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to toothbrush holders, and in particular, to toothbrush holders that also function to sanitize a toothbrush.
In recent years there has been excessive focus on cleanliness, hygiene and disease prevention. Specifically, there is tremendous media focus on health and how to minimize potential spread of disease and infection. One area of focus is how people can minimize placing bacterially contaminated things into their mouths.
Most people in the civilized world brush their teeth daily. However, most people are unaware of the true potential for placing unhealthy bacteria and germs into their mouths by utilization of a toothbrush.
There are many ways bacteria can be deposited onto a toothbrush. Bacteria from a toothbrush user's mouth can spread to the bristles of a toothbrush during usage. Food particles from the user's mouth can become trapped in the bristles and attract bacterial growth. Flushing a toilet can cause tiny bacteria (such as salmonella and E. coli) to spray through the air up to 20 feet. Toothbrushes are often within 20 feet of the toilet and can become contaminated.
- PRIOR ART TREATMENT
Bacteria deposited on a toothbrush can be harmful to a user. The bacteria can cause tooth decay and gum disease. Other diseases can also be spread through a dirty toothbrush, such as streptococcus (the bacteria that causes strep throat), gingivitis, periodontal disease, hepatitis, and herpes.
It has been shown up to 99% of bacteria on a toothbrush can be killed soaking the toothbrush in LISTERINE® for 10 minutes. LISTERINE® is a federally registered trademark of the Johnson & Johnson Company and refers in general to an antiseptic medicated mouthwash and mouth rinse. The active ingredients are are menthol, thymol, methyl salicylate, and eucalyptol. Ethanol is present in concentrations of 21.6% in the flavored product and 26.9% in the original gold Listerine Antiseptic. Ethanol serves as an antiseptic and also serves to dissolve the other ingredients. Thymol is an antiseptic, methyl salicylate is cleaning agent, and menthol is local anesthetic. Eucalyptol is an effective cough suppressant, and inhaling the fumes of eucaplytus oil provides temporary relief from many symptoms of the common cold and sore throat.
Although a 10 minute soak in LISTERINE® is effective if killing 99% of the bacteria, most people are unwilling to spend this amount of time in preparation prior to brushing their teeth. UV light toothbrush sanitizers are also available, but they are expensive and subject to breaking.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
What is needed is a better device for holding and sanitizing a toothbrush.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The present invention provides a toothbrush holding device that holds a toothbrush so that its bristles are covered by a toothbrush cleaning fluid. The toothbrush cleaning fluid is contained in a cup. A lid having a toothbrush grasping device covers the opening of the cup. The toothbrush grasping device holds the toothbrush in a position such that the bristles of the toothbrush are below the surface of the toothbrush cleaning fluid. Also the toothbrush is held so that the bottom of the toothbrush is suspended above the bottom of the cup. In a preferred embodiment the cup includes a weighted bottom plate for improved stability and a contoured wall section for improved gripping. In a preferred embodiment the toothbrush grasping device is preferably a flexible membrane with triangular sections that also function to agitate and scrub the toothbrush bristles for improved cleaning.
FIG. 1 shows a preferred embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 2 shows a preferred base plate and wall section.
FIG. 3 shows a preferred top section.
FIG. 4 shows a preferred flexible membrane.
FIG. 5 shows a preferred flexible membrane.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
FIGS. 6-7 show bristles being agitated and scrubbed by a flexible membrane.
A preferred embodiment of the present invention is shown in FIG. 1. Toothbrush holder 1 holds toothbrush 2 suspended in sanitizing fluid 3 as shown. Sanitizing fluid 3 functions to clean the bristles 4 of toothbrush 2, thereby decreasing the likelihood of harmful germ or bacteria being passed from the bristles to the toothbrush user's mouth. Also, by immersing the toothbrush in sanitizing fluid 3, the bristles are protected from contact with bacteria, germ or other contaminate that may be floating in the air. Additionally, bristles 4 are kept separated above food particles and bacteria that float to the bottom of toothbrush holder 1. This is achieved by suspending toothbrush 2 so that bristles 4 are positioned up from the bottom of toothbrush holder 1.
- Base Plate
In a preferred embodiment base 6, wall section 5 and top 7 are all fabricated from clear PVC. It is preferred that wall section 5 be fabricated from clear PVC because it enables the user to observe the condition of bristles 4 and sanitizing fluid 3 while toothbrush 2 is being held suspended. For example if food particles are stuck on bristles 4 or if sanitizing fluid appears to be fouled (with excessive particulate matter), the user can take appropriate corrective action (i.e., remove the food particles from the brush, change the toothbrush for a new brush, or dump the old sanitizing fluid and replace it with new fluid).
- Wall Section
Base plate 6 is shown in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2. In a preferred embodiment it is approximately ¼ inch thick and is approximately 3 ¾″×3″ clear PVC. Four rubber grip pads 6A have been adhesively attached to the bottom of base plate 6. The extra thickness of base plate 6 adds to the overall weight of toothbrush holder 1 and increases its stability. Grip pads 6A also add to the stability of toothbrush holder 1 by preventing undesired slippage.
- Top Section
Wall section 5 is shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. The walls of wall section 5 are approximately ⅛ inch thick. It measures approximately 2 ¾″×3 ½″ in cross section and is approximately 3 ⅝″ high (measured from the top of base plate 6). In a preferred embodiment, wall section 5 is adhesively attached to the top of base plate 6 to define a cup. The corners of wall section 5 are preferably contoured as shown to make it easier for a user to grip toothbrush holder 1.
- Flexible Membrane
Top section 7 is shown in FIGS. 1 and 3. Top section 7 is approximately ¼″ thick in interior section 7A. Top section 7 also includes a ⅛″ thick outer lip section 7B and a 1/16″ interior lip section 7C (FIG. 3). As shown in FIG. 1 top section 7 is shaped to sit snuggly on top of wall section 5 by virtue of outer lip section 7B (FIG. 3). In a preferred embodiment, interior section 7A of top section 7 has a tapered circumference that is slightly smaller at the bottom and slightly larger at the top than the opening at the top of wall section 5. This allows for a snug, pressure fit of top section 7 onto wall section 5.
Flexible membrane 8 is shown in FIGS. 1, 4 and 5. Flexible membrane 8 is preferably fabricated from a flexible rubbery material, for example flexible silicon. Flexible membrane 8 is approximately 3/16″ thick around outer edge 8B and includes 1/16″ cut-out groove 9 (shown best in FIG. 5). Cut-out groove 9 is press fit onto interior lip section 7C of top section 7 to securely hold flexible membrane 8 in place. Flexible membrane 8 includes five 1/16″ thick triangular sections 10.
- Flexible Membrane as a Bristle Cleaner
Triangular sections 10 are flexible enough to permit the insertion of toothbrush 2 into toothbrush holder 1 (FIGS. 1 and 6) yet also stiff enough to suspend toothbrush 2 above the top surface of base plate 6.
- Sanitizing Fluid
In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, triangular sections 10 of flexible membrane 8 function to clean bristles 4 as toothbrush 2 is inserted into toothbrush holder (FIG. 6) 1 and also as toothbrush 2 is removed from toothbrush holder 1 (FIG. 7). As toothbrush 2 passes through membrane 8, triangular sections 10 press against bristles 4 as shown in FIGS. 6 and 7. This action agitates and scrubs the bristles and helps to clean them. Also, food particles that are trapped in bristles 4 are knocked out and dislodged, providing further cleaning.
- Effective and Affordable
In a preferred embodiment, sanitizing fluid 3 is an antiseptic mouthwash such as LISTERINE®. It functions to clean bristles 4 of toothbrush 2 and to kill bacteria and germs on the toothbrush. Moreover, because bristles 4 of toothbrush 2 are immersed in the antiseptic mouthwash further contamination from the air is also prevented from contacting bristles 4.
Utilization of toothbrush holder 1 is extremely effective in sanitizing a user's toothbrush and in preventing further contamination of the toothbrush. It is extremely easy to use and very cost effective. The cost of manufacture is estimated at $1.00 per unit. The cost per unit to the consumer could be as low as $6.00 which places toothbrush holder 1 well within the affordability level of most consumers.
Although the above-preferred embodiments have been described with specificity, persons skilled in this art will recognize that many changes to the specific embodiments disclosed above could be made without departing from the spirit of the invention. Therefore, the attached claims and their legal equivalents should determine the scope of the invention.