What I claim is
1. A throw-away teeth protector for use during medical incisions and treatments, comprising:
2. Teeth protector according to claim 1, in which the side walls of the base member facing the channel are provided with protrusions for retaining the plastic string in the base member channel.
3. Teeth protector according to claim 2, in which the side wall protrusions consist of long ridges running along the channel.
4. Teeth protector according to claim 3, in which the ridges, before the use of the protector, pass the ends of the plastic string.
5. Teeth protector according to claim 1, in which the bottom protrusions consist of rounded walls running across the bottom channel substantially at right angle to the channel.
6. Teeth protector according to claim 1, wherein said material consists of silicon rubber polymer with silicon oil as a binding agent.
The present invention relates to a throw-away teeth protector adapted to be applied in case of a temporary risk of teeth injuries.
It has been known for a long time that there is a risk of injuries of teeth and teeth protheses during such medical incisions or treatments which require work in the oral cavity or the insertion of instruments of various kinds through the oral cavity of an anaesthetized patient. During such operations, the throat of the patient is usually completely open and, on some occasions, it has occurred that loosened teeth or pieces of teeth have fallen down into the throat and have passed down into the digestive tract or via the windpipe into the lungs. Particularly in the last-mentioned case, the situation is serious and possibly directly dangerous to life. Apart from the risk during the time the work operations are performed and instruments are inserted or removed, there are also risks of injury when an anaesthetized patient falls asleep or wakes up since at these moments spasmodic biting movements will often occur.
While several types of teeth protectors are previously known, e.g. through U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,705,492, 3,016,052 and 3,124,129, they all require pre-treatments before use, e.g. heating to make the protecting material soft enough for application on the teeth or a combination of elements to obtain a filler material which can start curing in a base member.
The main object of the present invention is to provide a throw-away teeth protector which can easily be applied without further preparation steps when there is a risk of injuries of the teeth.
According to the invention this object is attained by a teeth protector comprising an arcuate base member of an elastic material which is of substantially channel shape in cross-section, the ends of the channel being open, and characterized by a string of plastic material in the arcuate channel, the string having a free surface which is adapted to be forced against the points of the teeth to be protected when the protector is to be used, so that the teeth are embedded at least partially in the plastic material.
The use of a string of plastic material in the channel-shaped base member makes the teeth protector ready for use without any pre-treatments. Furthermore, by leaving the ends of the channel open, the teeth protector can be made to fit all or at least several sizes and shapes of the jaws. This will facilitate the use of the teeth protector and decrease manufacturing and distribution costs.
Another object is to provide means for retaining the plastic string in the base member channel.
Still another object of the invention is to design the teeth protector so that the plastic material is prevented from being pressed out from the base member when the teeth are forced into the plastic material. This is attained by making the plastic string slightly shorter than the base member channel, so that the ends of the plastic string are located at a distance from the ends of the base member, and by making the inner wall of the base member higher than the outer wall.
By using a string material which is plastic and elastic at room temperature the teeth protector will be still more effective, as the elastic property of the material will give a better protection in case of a powerful strike on the teeth protector.
Two embodiments of the invention will be described below more closely with reference to the attached drawings. The same reference numerals have been used for corresponding portions in the two embodiments.
FIG. 1 illustrates in perspective an embodiment of a teeth protector according to the invention.
FIG. 2 shows a top view of the same teeth protector.
FIG. 3 illustrates a cross-section through the embodiment according to FIG. 2.
FIG. 4 illustrates a second embodiment of the invention.
FIG. 5 is a cross section view through the embodiment according to FIG. 4.
The teeth protector shown in FIG. 1 comprises an arcuate base member 10 which is formed with smoothly rounded edges so as to avoid discomfort to the person to which the teeth protector is applied and which is manufactured of a flexible, elastic material, e.g. plastic. The base member 10 has an outer arcuate side wall 11 and an inner arcuate side wall 12, which form a channel 13 for receiving a string 14 of plastic material. As shown in FIG. 1, the side walls have a reduced height at the ends of the base member. By this form the teeth protector is well adapted to the human teeth jaw. The base member channel 13 has open ends. The absence of end surfaces at the ends of the base member facilitates to a large extent the forming of the teeth protector in one standard size, which fits all or almost all teeth jaws, upper jaws as well as lower jaws. The ends of the string 14 is conveniently located at a small distance inside the ends of the base member 10.
FIG. 2 shows a top view of the teeth protector according to FIG. 1 and FIG. 3 shows a cross-section along the line III--III in FIG. 2. From FIG. 3 it can be seen that the outer side wall 11 of the teeth protector is higher than the inner wall 12, which is anatomically correct and causes an improved fixation. The base member 10 has a substantially U-shaped cross-section and is slightly narrower at the central portion than at the end portions. This design will facilitate the production of a teeth protector of one standard size which fits all or most jaws and at the same time avoids unnecessary lumberingness or ungainliness of the teeth protector. At the central portion of the teeth protector the dimensional discrepancies between the jaws of different persons are at a minimum. At the ends of the jaws the individual variations are considerably larger. The internal side surfaces of the base member are also provided with protrusions 15 extending into the channel 13, said protrusions serving to retain the string 14 of plastic material in the base member channel. The side wall protrusions 15 consist of long ridges running along the channel and passing the ends of the plastic string. The outer side wall 11 and the inner side wall 12 are substantially perpendicular to the plane of the arcuate base member 10.
The embodiment of the teeth protector shown in FIGS. 4 and 5 differs from the embodiment according to FIGS. 1 - 3 by the facts that in the embodiment according to FIGS. 4 and 5 the inner wall 12 is higher than the outer wall 11 and that the base member is provided with protrusions 16 on the outside of the bottom of channel 13. The inner wall 11 is about 2 mm higher than the outer wall and the height of the protrusions 16 is about 5 mm.
The height of the inner wall 12 will prevent plastic string material from being pressed out of the base member into the mouth, because the inner wall 12 will abut the jaw and form a shield when the teeth protector has been applied. Due to the free space at the ends of the base member no plastic material is forced out at the ends of the base member, neither.
As the inner wall 12 is higher than the outer wall 11, the side wall protrusion 15 on the inner wall 12 is positioned slightly higher than the one of the outer wall 11.
The bottom protrusions 16 consist of ridges having rounded sides and spaced apart. The protrusions are positioned unsymmetrically with respect to the symmetry axis of the base member in the plane of the base member. This feature will make it possible to use identical teeth protectors for both jaws without the protrusions on the two teeth protectors facing each other. If the protrusions are just opposite to each other, the protrusions may slide on each other, due to the rounded or sloping sides, so that the jaws may be displaced sidewards with respect to each other in case of powerful chewing or biting which may be injurious to the person using the teeth protectors.
The bottom protrusions 16 will provide a free space between the base member and the teeth of the opposite jaw or between two base members. This free space will prevent the risk of cutting off wires or pipes which have to pass into the mouth during medical incisions or treatments. It is comparatively easy to avoid that such wires or pipes get clamped between a protrusion and an opposite base member or tooth.
The base member 10 is also provided with a small aperture 17, in which a cord, attached at a point outside the mouth of a patient, can be fastened to prevent that the teeth protector falls down into the pharynx during the application or removal procedure.
The string material should be plastic and elastic at room temperature and can e.g. consist of a non-thermosetting plastic, e.g. silicon rubber polymer with silicon oil as a binding agent. Such a material has the advantage that the teeth protector will be ready for use without any further preparation step and that the elasticity of the material will further decrease the risk of injuries on the teeth, as already mentioned. It is also necessary that the material will come loose of the teeth when the teeth protector is to be removed. The mentioned material has also this property.
Only two embodiments of the teeth protector have been shown on the drawings. However, it will be understood that many different shapes are possible. It is important that the base member is formed so that the teeth protector cannot cause any injuries during the application or the use and that it stabilizes and protects the string of plastic mass satisfactorily. The design of the outer side wall at the ends of the base member can be varied in many ways and the inner side wall may possibly be inclined so that the channel will become wider at the free surface. The height of the outer side wall can also be reduced at the central portion of the base member. The side wall protrusions illustrated in FIG. 3 may possibly be excluded or replaced by grooved surfaces or the like. The protrusions on the bottom of the channel can also have many different shapes, e.g. spherical.
The teeth protector is particularly intended for use, when work is to be performed in the throat of a patient and various instruments have to be inserted through the oral cavity. Even on other occasions the teeth protector can, however, effectively prevent injuries. Patients, which are being treated in intensive treatment departments after serious heart infarcts or extensive burns, have often a tendency to press their jaws together and grind their teeth. The teeth protector, if applied in such a case, will have a protective and pressure-equalizing effect, which eliminates the risk of injuries. Also in sport or training of various kinds a temporary application of a teeth protector according to the invention can be justified in order to eliminate the risk of teeth injuries. The crews in armoured cars and tanks, e.g., during special transport conditions, experience considerable discomfort from their teeth due to vibrations and engine noise, which is compensated by strongly biting the jaws together. Also in this case the teeth protector can be used as a safety means. Since one and the same size can be used by all persons and the teeth protector due to its simple structure and low production cost can be formed as a throw-away protective device, the use can also easily be made satisfactory from a hygienical point of view.
During the application, the free surface of the plastic string is pressed against the points of the teeth, so that the teeth are embedded in the plastic mass. If in spite of the protector any filling or part of a tooth should come loose, said part will remain in the plastic mass and be removed from the oral cavity together with the teeth protector, whereby all risks of complications occurring herefrom are eliminated.