Title:
VACUUM-UTILIZING HYGIENIC TEETH-CLEANING SYSTEM
United States Patent 3566869
Abstract:
A system for cleaning teeth comprising a vacuum pump and a selected one of a number of mass-produced mouthpieces, fitting somewhat loosely over the user's teeth. Via the closed mouth and sealed tubular connections the pump's suction is placed on a measured quantity of liquid dentifrice, which may contain both a cleanser and an agent for preventing or inhibiting pyorrhea and tooth decay. After all the dentifrice is sprayed on and passes over the teeth the pump's motor automatically stops. The dentifrice and food particles are prevented from entering the pump by a water-containing trap in the suction line. Most of the parts are of synthetic plastic, formed in quantity production molds.
Inventors:
CROWSON DAVID LAMAR
Application Number:
04/787167
Publication Date:
03/02/1971
Filing Date:
12/26/1968
Assignee:
DAVID LAMAR CROWSON
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
433/92, 601/159, 601/164, 604/77, 604/320
International Classes:
A61C17/02; A61C17/06; A61C17/08; (IPC1-7): A61H19/00
Field of Search:
128/66,62,24.1,224,230,227
View Patent Images:
US Patent References:
3481329METHOD OF AND APPARATUS FOR DENTAL TREATMENT1969-12-02Warren
3211149Body cavity treating apparatus1965-10-12Fono
2957476Mouth washing device1960-10-25Freeman
1847954Colon irrigator1932-03-01Fisher
Primary Examiner:
Trapp L. W.
Claims:
I claim

1. A hygienic teeth-cleaning system comprising:

2. A system as set forth in claim 1, in which said upper and lower sockets are fixedly joined by a partition between them, and in which said conduit means for conveying the dentifrice out of the mouth comprises: an exhaust passage thru said partition for conducting the dentifrice from one of said sockets to the other socket; and a passage flow-connecting said other socket with said liquid conducting means.

3. A system as set forth in claim 1 in which said upper and lower sockets loosely fit over the teeth, having substantial clearances for liquid dentifrice between said socket walls and teeth; and in which said apertures comprise a multiplicity of tiny holes, sufficiently small in diameter, relative to the cross-sectional areas of said liquid-conveying means and conduit means and liquid-conducting means to insure that the liquid dentifrice is sprayed onto the teeth from all of said tiny holes.

4. A system as set forth in claim 1, in which said projection is vertically thinner than the height of said sockets and comprises: a middle portion having two conduits that form parts of said liquid-conveying means and of said conduit means; and inclined sidewalls, tapering from said middle portion to end portions, each of which has a vertical thickness that is well below that of said middle portion and facilitates firm closing of the lips over said projection and sealing of the lips and mouth against suction from said pump.

5. A system as set forth in claim 2, in which said fluid-conducting means encompasses the whole of said partition, and in which said walls comprise integral sidewalls of said sockets and of said fluid-conducting means.

6. A system as set forth in claim 1, in which the said container is calibrated with graduations that indicate selectable volumes of dentifrice to be used in operations of the system.

7. A system as set forth in claim 1, in which said power-exerting means comprises: an electric motor; and control means for automatically determining the period of operation of said pump.

8. A system as set forth in claim 7, in which said control means is adjustable for selection from different periods of pump operation, and in which the said container is calibrated with graduations that indicate selectable volumes of dentifrice to be used, said graduations being marked in time-periods of the pump operation.

9. A system as set forth in claim 1, in which said liquid-conducting means comprises: a reservoir, partially filled with air, of a volume large enough to contain all the used dentifrice and food particles that have come from the mouth when said dentifrice container is emptied by the pump's suction and at the same time to contain a remaining layer of air in the top part of the reservoir; sealed conduit means leading to the reservoir from the mouthpiece; and sealed conduit means leading from the reservoir to the pump; said reservoir having an opening, and a closure for the opening comprising means for sealing the opening except when the closure is opened.

10. A system as set forth in claim 9, in which: said reservoir is adapted to hold a quantity of water for mixing with the used dentifrice and trapping any food particles coming from the mouth; said first-named sealed conduit means comprises a tube having an open end that is immersed in said water; and said second-named conduit means comprises a tube having an open end in the air in the top part of the reservoir.

Description:
The quite common tooth-destroying occurrence of pyorrhea and caries makes urgent the discovery of more effective treatment of the gums and teeth. A good type of such treatment involves the cleaning of food particles from the teeth combined with means for treating pyorrhea and preventing tooth decay. The encouraging recent development of a pyorrhea-inhibiting enzyme make especially desirable an efficient system for cleaning teeth with a dentifrice that embodies such a disease-treating enzyme or chemical.

In view of these facts, some objects of this invention are to provide: (1) an effective means for cleaning teeth by means of a liquid that is conducted under suction over the teeth; (2) an efficient system, comprising a vacuum pump that places a suction on the inside of the closed mouth and over the teeth; (3) the vacuum cleaning of teeth by use of a suction pump and a selected one of several mass-produced sizes of mouthpieces for adults and children, the said mouthpieces not being required to fit closely over the teeth, due to the use of suction instead of pressure; and (4) an efficient system for cleaning food particles from teeth by means of a cleaning fluid that contains means for inhibiting or treating dental diseases.

The foregoing and other objects of the invention will become more fully apparent from the following detailed description and from the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is an elevational view, partly in cross section, of one form of the invented apparatus;

FIG. 2 is a sectional, detail view, on a scale larger than that of FIG. 1, showing part of one side of the invented mouthpiece, somewhat loosely fitted over teeth;

FIG. 3 is a plan view of the mouthpiece, in section from the plane 3-3 of FIG. 2, with most of the conduits to the mouthpiece and pump shown as being broken away;

FIG. 4 is a side elevational view of the mouthpiece of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a sectional view, from the plane 5-5 of FIG. 3, of the part of the mouthpiece that fits between the lips of a user.

In FIG. 1 the apparatus is shown as comprising: a mouthpiece, 1; a dentifrice container, 2; a pump-protecting, water-containing receptacle, 3; a unit, 4, comprising a suction-producing vacuum pump and time-control means; a conduit, 5, for conducting dentifrice under suction from container 2 to the mouthpiece and mouth; conduit means, 6, for conducting fluid under suction from the teeth and mouthpiece to and into the water in 3; and conduit means, 7, for conducting air from the receptacle 3 to the suction pump.

The mouthpiece 1, shown in detail in FIGS. 2 to 5, is preferably made of molded synthetic plastic. It comprises: a lip portion, 8, adapted to be sealingly clamped between the lips of a user, and having a fluid-inlet conduit, 9, and a fluid-exit conduit, 10; upstanding, curved flanges 12 and downwardly extending, curved flanges 14, loosely fitting around the gums and teeth of the user; a looped conduit, 16, tubular in cross section, comprising joined curves, continuously encompassing the teeth, and having small, spray-forming apertures 17 leading to the teeth; a middle partition, 18, located interiorly of the looped conduit and fastened to it, below one set of the spray holes and above another set adjacent to the lower teeth; and a conduit 20 that provides flow of a limited amount of the dentifrice from one side of the partition to the other limited to an amount that permits thorough circulation of the fluid over the upper teeth before it is exhausted from the mouthpiece.

The dentifrice container 2 optionally may be of metal, but preferably is made of molded synthetic plastic. It is calibrated with graduations that indicate the proper volumes of the liquid dentifrice to be put into the container for given periods of time. For example, these graduations may be marked: 30 seconds; 1 minute; 11/2 minutes; etc.; up to the 5 minutes indicated in the indicia shown for the time control of unit 4. In most cases a short period of treatment, for example, a minute or 2 minutes, should be adequate.

The usual period, recommended by the manufacturer, will be determined by scientific experimentation. And in dental diseases this time of course may be prescribed for a particular individual by a dentist.

The container 2 has a spill-preventing top or lid, comprising: a frustoconical lip or flange 21 that is circular in cross sections normal to the container's axis; and a small inlet, 22, thru which the dentifrice is poured. This top optionally may be a separate, removable, screw-threaded lid; and if desired the inlet 22, when not in use, may be closed by a stopper, plug or the like.

The receptacle 3 rests loosely within a cylindrical flange 24 that is integral with or attached to the housing of unit 4. At the beginning of a teeth-cleaning operation this reservoir contains a relatively small amount of water at its bottom, sufficient to well cover the lower, open end of rigid tube 26; and at the end of the operation the dentifrice that was in container 2 has been sucked over the teeth and into receptacle 3, where it is mixed with water and remains until the user lifts the reservoir out of flange 24 and dumps its contents.

To prevent additional air from entering the receptacle 3 after its initial charge of water and air, its lid had a seal 28. This may be integral with the lid (for example, when both are made of slightly yieldable plastic); or, as shown, it may be a separate element of rubber or other plastic, glued or otherwise fixed to the lid. The suction from the vacuum pump of unit 4 thus is preserved extending from 4, thru the teeth and closed mouth of the user, to the liquid in container 2.

The volume of the air in reservoir 3 that is above the level of the initial charge of water is such that when the suction has drawn all the dentifrice thru the mouth and into 3, some air still remains in the top of the reservoir. The mixed water and used dentifrice thus have a final level below the lower, open end of the rigid tube 30 of conduit means 7, and none of the dentifrice enters composite line 7 to damage the vacuum pump. Although the invented system would function without the presence of water in the reservoir 3, this water preferably is used to efficiently prevent entry of dentifrice or food particles into the pump and to aid in maintaining cleanliness in the reservoir.

The flexible tubes 32 and 34, made of rubber or other flexible plastic, may be detached from tubes 26 and 30 while the reservoir is being emptied and recharged. Or, alternatively, a small, annular, flexible seal may be fixed in each hole of the lid thru which a rigid tube (26 or 30) passes, sealingly but detachably clamping the tube.

The vacuum pump of unit 4 may be any known type of suction pump. It is operated by a little electric motor which receives current from an electrical connection, 36, that may be connected to a source of current, or, optionally, from an electric battery in 4.

The period of the motor's operation is controlled by a switch, which may be manually operated at the beginning and end of each operation; but preferably it is automatically closed and opened by the automatic time control indicated in FIG. 1 as a left-hand part of unit 4. This control may be any known type of time control of motors, comprising, for example, a time clock and a switch-operating solenoid. The time clock and the period of operation of the motor are set by the rotatable pointer or arm 38, and the indicia shown above 38 (1/2 to 5, by halves) represent the minutes of operation.

One of the important features of this invention is the small size of the openings 17. For convenience of illustration they have been shown as relatively larger than they are in practice. They are so small that they produce a fine spray of the liquid dentifrice into the mouthpiece spaces adjacent the teeth, and prevent dissipation of the pump's suction while the fluid, which has entered via inlet 9, goes all around the mouthpiece. The friction in these finely choked holes aids in thus distributing the suction. Moreover, the cross-sectional area of the outlet 10 is sufficiently large, relative to the sum of the cross-sectional areas of the apertures 17, to aid in this distribution; and the cross-sectional area of the passage 20 is considerably smaller than that of 10; and the inlet tube 5 is smaller than the outlet tube 6. All these features are factors in maintaining a constant suction on the inlet sides of all the tiny holes 17.

Due to the smallness of these holes the system would function without a valve in the line 5. But such a valve, manually operable, is optional and is indicated at 42.

Most of the parts of the apparatus may be made of plastic. Preferably the containers 2 and 3, the housing of unit 4, the tubes 26 and 30 and the mouthpiece 1 are of rigid or nearly rigid synthetic plastic, preferably formed in molds.

And because of their relatively loose fitting over teeth the mouthpieces may be factory made in a number of sizes of these quantity production molds. Each mouthpiece comprises upper and lower parts (approximate halves) that may be separately made, in different molds, and then fastened together in another mold. Or they may be otherwise sealingly fixed together, for example by a bond of epoxy resin.

METHOD OF OPERATION

The steps by which a user's teeth are cleaned in this system are:

1. The desired amount of the liquid dentifrice is poured into container 2, and a relatively small amount of water is placed in reservoir 3.

2. The mouthpiece 1 is placed in the mouth over the teeth, and the lips are firmly and sealingly closed over the contoured lip piece or projection 8.

3. The time control is set and the motor and pump begin functioning, placing a suction inside the closed mouth and, via line 5, on the bottom of the liquid dentifrice in container 2.

4. The liquid enters the mouthpiece via 9 and encompasses the middle of the mouthpiece via looped channel 16.

5. The dentifrice is sprayed thru the fine holes 17 and onto all of the upper and lower teeth.

6. From the tooth cup or socket formed by the upper flanges 12 and the middle piece 18, the liquid moves via the relatively small tube 20 into the socket over the lower teeth. From this lower socket the used dentifrice and food particles are exhausted from the mouthpiece via the relatively large inclined passage 44 and the passage 10 in the lip piece.

7. Via conduit means 6, the liquid is sucked into the water in receptacle 3.

8. The dentifrice and food particles are mixed with and held in the water, while the level of the liquid in 3 rises and air is sucked out of 3 via composite conduit 7.

9. When all the dentifrice is suction-pulled out of container 2, the pump will automatically stop if, as is optional, the setting of its time control is in substantially exact accord with the volume of dentifrice placed in container 2 and indicated by one of its graduations. But optionally this setting may be adjusted, in step (3) above, to provide for the final suction of air thru the mouthpiece for a short time before the time-control switch shuts off the current to the motor. (Instead of this adjustment by the operator, the manufacturer may at his option calibrate the container 2 to provide that the selected volume of dentifrice is exhausted from 2 a short time before the pump stops.)

10. The receptacle 3 is now opened, the mixture of dentifrice, water and food particles in 3 is dumped; and preferably another charge of fresh water is placed in the reservoir, ready for the next operation.

Within the scope of the subjoined claims, various changes may be made in the specific disclosed structure. In the claims the word "dentifrice" signifies: a cleanser for teeth; or material for treating dental disease; or a mixture of such material and cleanser.