The present disclosure relates generally to toothbrushes, and more particularly to toothbrushes capable of dispensing oral care products.
Oral care is an important component of overall health. Most daily oral care regimens involve cleaning between the teeth with dental floss, brushing the teeth and gums with a toothbrush and toothpaste (also known as dentifrice) and/or rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash. Generally, the toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, and floss are separate units, which is not convenient for purchase, storage, or travel purposes.
Some toothbrushes that have integrated toothpaste and/or floss dispensers have been developed. In such toothbrushes, the toothpaste is pushed up through the head of the toothbrush by the advancement of a pusher along a hollow-core coil, which is rotated by the rotation of the base. The hollow-core mechanism, however, creates an opening where toothpaste can be trapped causing the toothpaste to be unable to be extracted from the toothbrush. In addition, because the base (which contains the floss) must be rotated in order to advance toothpaste, such devices risk inadvertent dispensing or retraction of the dental floss.
A dispensing toothbrush is capable of storage and dispensing toothpaste and dental floss. The toothbrush includes a handle having a chamber constructed to store toothpaste, a dial, and a floss dispenser having a floss spindle, floss aperture and floss cutter, a neck, and a head having bristles and head apertures. The dial is positioned in the handle between the floss dispenser and the neck and turning the dial causes the toothpaste to be extruded through the head apertures. The toothbrush provides a dispensing toothbrush having a solid core that prevents toothpaste from becoming trapped within and that enables dispensing of toothpaste without unintentional dispensing or retraction of dental floss. Toothbrush can be provided in compact size and is ideal for travel in that it consolidates multiple items such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss into a single compact device.
In some embodiments, the handle has a threaded screw rod fixably connected to the dial and a pusher rotatably connected to the screw rod. Rotation of the screw rod via the dial moves the pusher in a direction transverse to the orientation of the handle to cause extrusion of toothpaste.
In some embodiments, the handle has a circular cross section presenting channels and the pusher has a circular cross section presenting notches adapted to engage with the channels to prevent the pusher from rotating within chamber. This results in linear movement of the pusher as the dial is rotating to advance the toothpaste through the internal chambers of the device to the head of the toothbrush where it is dispensed.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Certain embodiments are described further in the following description, examples, claims, and drawings. These embodiments will become more apparent from the following detailed description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying exemplary drawings.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view depicting a cross-section of a dispensing toothbrush according to an embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the dispensing toothbrush of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3A is a side elevation view depicting a cross-section of the dispensing toothbrush of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3B is a side elevation view depicting a cross-section of the dispensing toothbrush of FIG. 1;
FIG. 4 is a rear elevation view depicting a cross-section of the dispensing toothbrush of FIG. 1;
FIG. 5 is a perspective view depicting the exterior of a dispensing toothbrush according to an embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 6 is a perspective view depicting the exterior of the dispensing toothbrush of FIG. 5;
FIG. 7 is a perspective view depicting the exterior of the dispensing toothbrush of FIG. 5; and
FIG. 8 is a side elevation view depicting a refill cartridge according to an embodiment of the present invention.
FIGS. 1-4 depict a dispensing toothbrush 100 according to an embodiment of the present invention that includes a handle 200, neck 300, and head 400. In various embodiments, handle 200, neck 300, and head 400 can be composed of plastic, wood, metal, or other material that can be suitably formed and adapted for use in high moisture environments.
Handle 200 can include outer casing 202. Outer casing 202 can be an elongate cylinder with circular cross-section or be an elongate form having oval, square, hexagonal or other cross-section as necessary. Outer casing 202 can present an outer surface that is smooth, ridged, or faceted.
A chamber 204 within which toothpaste 600 can be stored can be defined in handle 200. Chamber 204 can be a void within handle 200, or can have walls separating it from the inner surface of handle 200. Chamber 204 can have generally the same cross-section as outer casing 202 with slightly smaller total area such that chamber 204 is defined entirely within outer casing 202. Chamber 204 can narrow at an end proximate to neck 300 in order to enable toothpaste 600 to travel into neck 300.
Toothbrush 100 can further include a toothpaste dispensing mechanism that can include a cylindrical pusher 206, a screw rod 208, and a dial 210. Dial 210 can be fixedly connected to screw rod 208 at an end of screw rod 208 and pusher 206 can be configured to travel along screw rod 208. As dial 210 is turned, screw rod 208 rotates, moving pusher 206 towards head 400 along threads of screw rod 208. As pusher 206 is advanced along screw rod 208 towards head 400, toothpaste 600 is forced out of chamber 204.
Pusher 206 can have a cross-section that is keyed to inner cross-section of chamber 204 in order to prevent pusher 206 from rotating relative to chamber 204 such that rotation of screw rod 208 causes linear movement of pusher 206 along screw rod 208. In one embodiment, pusher 206 can define notches (not shown) that align with channels 212 a and 212 b protruding into chamber 204. In another embodiment, pusher 206 and chamber 204 can be shaped such that pusher 206 cannot be rotated relative to chamber 204. For example, pusher 206 and chamber 204 can present an oval or rectangular cross-section that prevents pusher 206 from rotating within chamber 204, and also can provide a more comfortable grip of outer casing 202. Pusher 206 can be relatively shortened in a direction longitudinal to handle 200 in order to maximize storage space within chamber 204. Pusher 206 can fill generally the entire cross-section of chamber 204 such that when pusher 206 travels longitudinally within chamber 204 it prevents flow of toothpaste 600 in a direction distal to head 400. Pusher 206 can be positioned on screw rod 208 by virtue of a threaded aperture 214 that mates with screw rod 208.
Screw rod 208 can connect to dial 210 at an end distal to head 400 and connect to interior of chamber 204 at an end proximate to head 400 or can be unconnected and freestanding at the proximal end. Screw rod 208 can be fixedly connected to dial 210 and rotatably connected at the opposite end within chamber such that rotation of dial 210 causes rotation of screw rod 208. Screw rod 208 can be threaded such that rotation of screw rod 208 within threaded aperture 214 of pusher 206 causes pusher 206 to travel linearly along screw rod 208.
Dial 210 can be fixably attached to screw rod 208 at an end distal to head 400. Dial 210 can have a cross-section of a shape and size to fit and rotate radially within chamber 204. Dial 210 can be relatively shortened in a direction longitudinal to chamber 204, in order to maximize storage space within handle 200. The outer surface of dial 210 can be smooth or can present ridges or grips for ease of use. As can be seen in FIG. 2, outer casing 202 can present one or more dial openings 216 located and sized such that dial 210 can be seen and manipulated by the user.
Neck 300 is connected to handle 200 at an end distal to dial 210 and can be unitary formed with handle 200. Neck 300 can be an elongate cylinder or other elongate form with significantly smaller cross-section than handle 200. Neck 300 can also taper gradually in cross section from handle 200 to head 300. Neck 300 presents neck channel 302. Neck channel 302 provides a passage for flow of toothpaste 600 from chamber 204 to head 400. Neck channel 302 can be directly, continuously connected and unitarily formed with chamber 204.
Head 400 is connected to neck 300 and includes base 402 and bristles 404. Head 400 can be unitary formed with neck 300. Bristles 404 can protrude from base 402 and can be oriented in a direction perpendicular to longitudinal axis of toothbrush 100 as shown, or can be oriented radially around base 402, or any other suitable configuration. Base 402 includes head channel 408. Head channel 408 can be directly and unitarily connected to neck channel 302 in order to enable toothpaste 600 flowing from chamber 204 through neck channel 302 into head channel 408. Base 402 further includes head apertures 412. Head apertures 412 connect to head channel 408 to allow toothpaste 600 to flow outwardly from head channel 408 between and/or around bristles 404. Bristles 404 can be composed of plastic, rubber, metal, wood, fur, or other material suitable for cleaning teeth. In various embodiments, bristles 404 can be plain or can be coated with a material, such as, for example, xylitol that promotes enhanced oral health.
Head 400 can also include a tongue cleaner 406. Tongue cleaner 406 can be arranged on base 402 on a side opposite bristles 404. Tongue cleaner 406 can be defined by ridges, bumps, or another textured surface suitable for the cleaning soft surfaces of a tongue. Tongue cleaner 406 can be molded directly onto base 402, or can be a separate structure affixed to base 402 via an adhesive or fasteners. Tongue cleaner 410 can be composed of the same material as head 400, or another material, such as, for example, rubber, plastic, wood, metal, or other suitable material.
Handle 200 can also include floss dispenser 500. Floss dispenser 500 includes floss spindle 502 around which dental floss 700 or other cording can be wound. Floss dispenser 500 can be arranged within handle 200 at an end distal to head 400. Floss dispenser 500 can have a circular or other cross section cable of rotational movement within handle 200. A floss aperture 504 can be disposed through outer casing 202 of handle 200 to enable floss to be pulled out of handle 200. As seen in, for example, FIG. 2, a floss cutter 506 through which floss aperture 504 extends can also be disposed on outer casing 202 of handle 200. Alternatively, the floss aperture 504 can be in a separate location on outer casing 202 from floss cutter 506 in order to present a greater length of floss for grasping by the user. Cutter 506 can include a sharp blade, hook or other projection embedded in outer casing 202. Cutter 506 can be sunken from surface of outer casing 202 such that the cutter 506 is positioned below an outer perimeter of outer casing 202 of handle 200 in order to prevent inadvertent injury to a user grasping handle 200. Cutter 506 can be composed of plastic, metal, or other material that can be sufficiently sharp to cut dental floss. Floss dispenser 500 is positioned below dial 210 and is not connected to dial 210 or screw rod 208 such that rotation of dial 210 to cause toothpaste to be dispensed does not cause rotation of floss dispenser 500 or floss spindle 502. Thus, inadvertent dispensation of floss when dispensing toothpaste is prevented.
In some embodiments, toothbrush 100 can also dispense antiseptic mouthwash. In such embodiments, handle 200, neck 300, or head 400 could include a separate chamber containing mouthwash. Mouthwash can be dispensed as a spray through actuation of a button or other similar means on toothbrush or can be accessible by removing a cap or lid disposed on toothbrush.
In some embodiments, toothbrush 100 can include a sanitary bristle cover. Such a cover can be selectively and removably attachable to head 400 to cover bristles 404 when toothbrush 100 is not in use. Cover therefore helps maintain bristles 404 in a sanitary condition between uses.
In operation, chamber 204 can initially be fully loaded with toothpaste 600 with pusher 206 in a fully retracted position, at an end distal to head 400 as can be seen in FIG. 3A. As dial 210 is turned, screw rod 208 rotates to linearly advance pusher 206 (which cannot rotate) towards head 400 along threads of screw rod 208. FIG. 3B depicts the pusher 206 after it has advanced partially through chamber 204. As pusher 206 is advanced, toothpaste 600 is forced out of chamber 204, into neck channel 302, head channel 408 and out of head apertures 412. Thus, as can be seen in FIG. 4, only portions of chamber 204 located proximally of the pusher 206 (towards the head) will contain toothpaste, with areas of chamber 204 distal of pusher being empty. When the desired amount of toothpaste has been extracted, the user can proceed with tooth brushing as desired. Chamber 204 can hold sufficient toothpaste for a number of brushings.
In operation, a small portion of floss 700 can protrude from floss aperture 504. When floss 700 is pulled, floss spindle 502 can spin to dispense additional floss. Floss 700 can be cut by stretching over blade of floss cutter 506. There is sufficient length between floss aperture 504 and floss cutter 506 such that after cutting a length of floss for use, another small portion of floss remains extending from floss aperture 504 for the user to grasp for a future use. Floss spindle 502 can also contain sufficient floss for multiple uses. In one embodiment, the amount of floss on the spindle 502 and toothpaste in the chamber 204 are configured to last approximately the same number of uses.
In one embodiment, toothbrush 100 is a limited use toothbrush meant to be disposed of when no more toothpaste 600 and/or dental floss 700 can be extracted such that it is a non-refillable product. In another embodiment, toothbrush 100 can be refilled with toothpaste 600 via a syringe or other device capable of insertion into one or more head apertures 412. In such an embodiment, dial 210 can be rotated to retract pusher 206 in order to expand available space in chamber 204. As chamber 204 is expanded, toothpaste 600 can be forced through one or more head apertures 412, and flow into chamber 204 via head channel 408 and neck channel 302.
An alternative cartridge refillable toothbrush embodiment is depicted in FIGS. 5-8. As can be seen in FIG. 8, cartridge 2000 can include a toothpaste dispensing mechanism and floss dispenser 1500. The toothpaste dispensing mechanism can include chamber 1204 (outlined in dashed lines in FIG. 8 for sake of clarity), pusher 1206, screw rod 1208, and dial 1210. Chamber 1204 can contain toothpaste 600 which can be dispensed via operation of dial 1210, screw rod 1208, and pusher 1206 as described above. As can be seen in FIGS. 5-7, floss dispenser 1500 includes floss spindle (not shown), floss aperture 1502, and floss cutter 1504 which can operate in a similar manner to floss dispenser 500 described above. In the depicted embodiment, floss aperture 1502 can be spaced apart from floss cutter 1504; however, floss cutter 1504 may be integrated into floss aperture 1502 as described above.
Chamber 1204 has a cross section slightly smaller than that of handle 1200 and floss dispenser 1500 can have a cross section smaller, similarly size, or larger than that of handle 1200. Cartridge 2000 can therefore be slidably inserted into handle 1200 with chamber 1204 oriented towards neck 1400. When inserted, chamber 1204 can be completely enclosed by handle 1200, while floss dispenser 1500 can protrude.
Handle 1200 and cartridge 2000 can be connected via an engagement mechanism. In some embodiments, the engagement mechanism can include threads on interior of handle 1200 and corresponding threads on exterior of cartridge 2000 (not shown). The engagement mechanism can also include one or more tabs on cartridge 2000 which correspond to and interlock with one or more slots on handle 1200, or vice versa, or any other engagement mechanism capable of removably holding cartridge 2000 when inserted to handle 1200.
Primary operation of dispensing toothbrush 1100 can be similar to that of dispensing toothbrush 100 described above. Dispensing toothbrush 1100 can also be refilled by removal and replacement of cartridge 2000 providing a new and complete supply of both toothpaste 600 and floss 700.
Toothbrushes as described herein are ideal for travel due to the consolidation of multiple necessary tooth care items, such as, for example, a toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss, into a single item rather than multiple items each needing to be separately carried and stored. In some embodiments, toothbrushes as described herein can be provided in a compact size relative to a standard toothbrush in order to provide even further benefits for travel and storage purposes.
Many alterations and modifications of the preferred embodiments will no doubt become apparent to a person of ordinary skill in the art after having read the foregoing description, it is to be understood that the particular embodiments depicted and described by way of illustration are in no way intended to be considered limiting. Thus, references to the details of the described embodiments are not intended to limit their scope. For example, persons of ordinary skill in the relevant art will recognize that the various features described for the different embodiments of the inventions can be suitably combined, un-combined, and re-combined with other features, alone, or in different combinations, within the spirit of the invention. Likewise, the various features described above should all be regarded as example embodiments, rather than limitations to the scope or spirit of the inventions. Therefore, the above is not contemplated to limit the scope of the present inventions.
Persons of ordinary skill in the relevant arts will recognize that the inventions may include fewer features than illustrated in any individual embodiment described above. The embodiments described herein are not meant to be an exhaustive presentation of the ways in which the various features of the inventions may be combined. Accordingly, the embodiments are not mutually exclusive combinations of features; rather, the inventions may include a combination of different individual features selected from different individual embodiments, as understood by persons of ordinary skill in the art.