Sign up
Title:
Combined toothbrush and flossing device
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A combination toothbrush and flossing device integrated into a single product. The toothbrush effectively acts as a handle for the flossing device, thereby making it easier to floss difficult to reach teeth in the rear of the mouth. A floss holder that can be retracted into a body of the device to facilitate storage holds a portion of floss for use. Alternatively, a stand-alone flossing-device and handle advantageously is not in the form of a toothbrush. A powered flossing device provides a motorized floss holder to move the floss in an up-and-down manner relative to the body of the device further eases use. The toothbrush is able to be a powered toothbrush with a removable head that can be replaced with a tongue scraper for use as a powered tongue scraper.


Inventors:
Alexander Sr., Null Williams (Pompano Beach, FL, US)
Broeski, Thomas (Afton, VA, US)
Application Number:
10/654095
Publication Date:
03/04/2004
Filing Date:
09/03/2003
Assignee:
Alexander Williams, Sr.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A45D44/18; A46B15/00; A61C; (IPC1-7): A45D44/18
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20100018543HAIRDRESSER'S MASKING AIDJanuary, 2010Bird
20070051385Cosmetic tool for lashMarch, 2007Tahara
20070095780Scalp massaging container capMay, 2007Felton
20060272664Abrasive head attachment for nail polish removal toolDecember, 2006O'dwyer
20080223386DEVICE FOR APPLYING A PRODUCT TO A LOCK OF HAIRSeptember, 2008Albisetti
20080210255Apparatus for styling hairSeptember, 2008Moll
20080163886Comb with smooth comb hair portionJuly, 2008Wang
20090188518Rotating Dial SifterJuly, 2009Thorpe et al.
20090007927Nail Care OriginalisJanuary, 2009Davis
20050051186Hair integration unitMarch, 2005Smith et al.
20090078277Nail Shaper for Ingrown Nail and False NailMarch, 2009Uemura
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
& BIANCO P.L.,FLEIT, KAIN, GIBBONS, GUTMAN, BONGINI (ONE BOCA COMMERCE CENTER, BOCA RATON, FL, 33487, US)
Claims:

What claimed is:



1. A integrated toothbrush and flossing device, comprising: a toothbrush having a body, the body having a fore-end from which bristles depend, and a butt end; and a flossing device attached to the toothbrush, the flossing device having a floss holder for holding a portion of floss for use in cleaning teeth, wherein the flossing device comprises a floss holder moveably secured to the body and wherein the floss holder is able to be at least partially retracted into the body.

2. The integrated toothbrush and flossing device according to claim 1, wherein the floss holder slides from within the body.

3. The integrated toothbrush and flossing device according to claim 1, wherein the floss holder pivot-ably swings from the body.

4. The integrated toothbrush and flossing device according to claim 1, further comprising a floss spool contained within the body, and wherein the floss spool provides floss to the floss holder.

5. The integrated toothbrush and flossing device according to claim 1, wherein the floss holder is removably received to a sliding element that is movably affixed to the body.

6. The integrated toothbrush and flossing device according to claim 1, wherein the floss holder has floss attached thereto.

7. The integrated toothbrush and flossing device according to claim 1, wherein the flossing device is attached to the butt end of the body.

8. The integrated toothbrush and flossing device according to claim 1, further comprising a floss holder drive for moving the floss holder relative to the body.

9. The integrated toothbrush and flossing device according to claim 8, wherein the floss drive moves the floss holder in an up and down manner relative to the body.

10. The integrated toothbrush and flossing device according to claim 1, further comprising a floss holder dispenser for holding a plurality of floss holders.

11. The integrated toothbrush and flossing device according to claim 10, wherein the floss holder dispenser comprises a floss holder slider, the floss holder slider operating to move a floss holder into a position for use.

12. The integrated toothbrush and flossing device according to claim 1, further comprising: a drive assembly for moving an output shaft; and a tongue scraper attached to the output shaft.

13. The integrated toothbrush and flossing device according to claim 12, wherein the tongue scraper is removably affixed to the output shaft.

14. The integrated toothbrush and flossing device according to claim 12, further comprising a tooth brush attachment that is removably attached to the shaft.

15. A flossing device, comprising: a body; and a floss holder moveably secured to the body, wherein the floss holder holds a portion of floss for use in cleaning teeth and the floss holder can be at least partially retracted into the body.

16. The flossing device according to claim 15, wherein the floss holder slides to extend outward from within the body.

17. The flossing device according to claim 15, wherein the floss holder pivot-ably swings outward from the body.

18. The flossing device according to claim 15, further comprising a floss spool contained within the body and wherein the floss spool provides floss to the floss holder.

19. The flossing device according to claim 15, wherein the floss holder is removably received into a sliding element that is movably affixed to the body.

20. The flossing device according to claim 15, wherein the flossing device has floss attached thereto.

21. The flossing device according to claim 15, further comprising a floss holder drive for moving the floss holder relative to the body.

22. The flossing device according to claim 21, wherein the floss holder drive moves the floss holder in an up and down manner relative to the body.

23. The flossing device according to claim 15, further comprising a floss holder dispenser for holding a plurality of floss holders.

24. The flossing device according to claim 23, wherein the floss holder dispenser comprises a floss holder slider, the floss holder slider operating to move a floss holder into a position for use.

25. A powered tongue scraper, comprising: a drive assembly for moving an output shaft; and a tongue scraper attached to the output shaft.

26. The powered tongue scraper according to claim 25, wherein the tongue scraper is removably affixed to the output shaft.

27. The powered tongue scraper according to claim 26, further comprising a tooth brush attachment that can be removably attached to the shaft.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] This application is based upon and claims priority from prior U.S. patent application Ser. No. 60/408,134, filed Sep. 4, 2002, the entire disclosure of which is herein incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] 1. Field of the Invention

[0003] The present invention generally relates to the field of dental hygiene, and more particularly relates to combination toothbrush and dental flossing devices.

[0004] 2. Description of Related Art

[0005] Dental hygiene is an important part of everyday life. Proper dental hygiene requires regular and frequent care. Proper dental hygiene is also best performed by using a variety of tools. For example, more complete dental hygiene is achieved by using dental floss in combination with brushing of the teeth. A problem results from having to use various tools to perform better dental hygiene because the person has to keep track of all of the tools that are needed. If only one tool, such as a toothbrush or dental floss is readily available, a person is likely to use only that tool and not look for the other tools that are needed. This results in the person not performing the complete dental hygiene regimen that provides the best dental hygiene.

[0006] Therefore, a need exists to overcome the problems with the prior art as discussed above.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] According to a preferred embodiment of the present invention, an integrated toothbrush and flossing device has a toothbrush that has a body. The body of the toothbrush has a fore-end from which bristles depend and a butt end. The integrated toothbrush and flossing device further has a flossing device attached to the toothbrush. The flossing device has a floss holder for holding a portion of floss for use in cleaning teeth. The floss holder is moveably secured to the body and is able to be at least partially retracted into the body.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0008] The subject matter, which is regarded as the invention, is particularly pointed out and distinctly claimed in the claims at the conclusion of the specification. The foregoing and other features and also the advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. Additionally, the left-most digit of a reference number in the drawings identifies the drawing in which an element with that reference number first appears.

[0009] FIG. 1 is a diagram of an integrated toothbrush and flossing device according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

[0010] FIG. 2 is a diagram of an extended floss holder view of the integrated toothbrush and flossing device 100 according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

[0011] FIG. 3 is a diagram of an opposite-end flossing device according to an alternative embodiment of the present invention.

[0012] FIG. 4 is a diagram of a platform finger engagement means integrated toothbrush and flossing device according to an alternative embodiment of the present invention.

[0013] FIG. 5 is a diagram a pivot-able floss holder integrated toothbrush and flossing device according to an alternative embodiment of the present invention.

[0014] FIGS. 6A and 6B are diagrams of a detachable floss holder integrated toothbrush and flossing device according to an alternative embodiment of the present invention.

[0015] FIG. 7 is a diagram of a powered flossing device according to an embodiment of the present invention.

[0016] FIG. 8 is a top-down cross-sectional view of a floss holder dispenser according to an embodiment of the present invention.

[0017] FIG. 9 is a top view of a floss holder slide mechanism according to an embodiment of the present invention.

[0018] FIG. 10 is a side view of a floss holder slide mechanism according to an embodiment of the present invention.

[0019] FIG. 11 is a longitudinal view of a floss holder slide mechanism according to an embodiment of the present invention.

[0020] FIG. 12 is a diagram of a powered toothbrush according to an embodiment of the present invention.

[0021] FIG. 13 is a diagram of a simulated animal integrated toothbrush and flossing device according to an embodiment of the present invention.

[0022] FIG. 14 is a diagram of a simulated animal integrated toothbrush and flossing device according to an embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0023] It is important to note that these embodiments are only examples of the many advantageous uses of the innovative teachings herein. In general, statements made in the specification of the present application do not necessarily limit any of the various claimed inventions. Moreover, some statements may apply to some inventive features but not to others. In general, unless otherwise indicated, singular elements may be in the plural and visa versa with no loss of generality.

[0024] Embodiments of the present invention provide a device that facilitates good dental hygiene by combining a toothbrush and a flossing device into a single product. For purposes of this disclosure, the term “toothbrush” is includes both manual and powered type toothbrushes. In an exemplary embodiment, the toothbrush effectively acts as a handle for the flossing device, thereby making it easier to floss difficult to reach teeth in the rear of the mouth. The invention also includes a stand-alone flossing-device-handle that is not in the form of the toothbrush. Therefore the term “toothbrush” can be applied to the toothbrush handle standing alone without toothbrush bristles depending therefrom.

[0025] The flossing device, which is able to stand alone or be incorporated within a combination toothbrush and flossing device, includes a means of storing floss, a means of dispensing floss, and a means of holding dispensed floss in a position that allows a section of the dispensed floss to be easily introduced into the user's mouth for flossing.

[0026] One aspect of exemplary embodiments of the present invention is a flossing device incorporated into a toothbrush in a way that allows the flossing device to be enclosed within the body of the toothbrush while the flossing device is not in use, and then reversibly extended from the body of the toothbrush when the user desires to floss his or her teeth.

[0027] Another aspect of exemplary embodiments of the invention is that the flossing device may be entirely integrated with the toothbrush, or, alternatively, some or all of the flossing device may be provided separately and attached to the toothbrush through a means that allows the flossing device to be retracted into the body of the toothbrush when the flossing device is not in use.

[0028] Another aspect of exemplary embodiments of the present invention is a combination of a retractable flossing device, as described above, and a means of storing floss within the body of the toothbrush.

[0029] The inventive concepts and novel features of the invention are herein described with reference to exemplary embodiments of the invention. The exemplary embodiments described herein are representative of the many possible embodiments that incorporate in the inventive concepts of the present invention. For instance, while the embodiment described herein relates to a toothbrush employed as a handle for a flossing device, it is to be understood that the invention further includes the broader concept of a flossing-device handle that is not in the specific form of a toothbrush. In the accompanying figures the same numbers are used where possible to indicate analogous parts in various views.

[0030] Turning now to the figures, an integrated toothbrush and flossing device 100 according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 1. The integrated toothbrush 100 has a body 101 with a fore-end 120 from which a plurality of bristles 102 depends. Floss is stored on a spool 103 that is held in a spool chamber 104 that is integral to body 101. The spool 103 rotates freely within the chamber 104 when the floss is pulled therefrom.

[0031] An extended floss holder view 200 of the integrated toothbrush and flossing device 100 according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 2. A sliding floss holder 205 is integral to the body 101 of the integrated toothbrush and flossing device 100 and is shown in its extended state in the extended floss holder view 200. The sliding floss holder 205 includes a pair of arms 206, each of which has a means for securely holding floss 208. The two arms 206 are separated by a space 202 such that when a section of floss 208 is secured tautly between the arms 206, the section of floss 208 that is between the arms 206 can be used to floss teeth. It will be appreciated that in this configuration, the toothbrush becomes a handle for the floss holder, thereby making it much easier for the user to reach the back teeth, i.e. the molars.

[0032] The sliding floss holder can be slidably extended and retracted from the body 101 of the toothbrush such that the floss holder 205 and arms 206 move in and out of the body 101 through a first slot 107 in the fore-end 120 of the toothbrush body 101. In the retracted position shown in FIG. 1, the sliding floss holder 205 is enclosed within the body 101 of the integrated toothbrush and flossing device 100 so that the sliding floss holder 205 does not interfere with tooth-brushing. In the extended position, as is shown in FIG. 2, the two arms 206 of the sliding floss holder 205 are extended past the body 101 of the integrated toothbrush and flossing device, and thereby hold the floss away from the body 101 of the integrated toothbrush and flossing device 100 and in position for easily reaching into the mouth.

[0033] During the process of moving the sliding floss holder 205 from its retracted position to its extended position, floss 208 is pulled from the spool 103 with the floss 208 being guided from the spool 103 to the extended arms 206 by means of a channel 108 in the body 101 of the integrated toothbrush and flossing device 100. The channel 108 in this exemplary embodiment is formed by a groove in the side of the body 101 of the integrated toothbrush and flossing device 100. Alternative embodiments use a tunnel that is formed wholly within the body 101 of the integrated toothbrush and flossing device 100.

[0034] This exemplary embodiment of the present invention incorporates the flossing-device into the fore-end 120 of the toothbrush, i.e., the end with the toothbrush bristles 102. An opposite-end flossing device 300 according to an alternative embodiment of the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 3. The opposite-end flossing device 300 shows an embodiment of the invention in which the flossing-device is incorporated into the butt-end 122 of the body 101 of the integrated toothbrush and flossing device 100. The butt-end 122 of the body 101 is the end that is opposite the fore-end 120 of the body 101. It is therefore clear that the invention is not limited as to the portion of the body 101 from which the floss holder extends.

Alternative Finger-Engagement Means for Extending the Floss Holding Mechanism

[0035] The exemplary embodiments illustrated in FIGS. 1-3 include a finger-engagement means 109 for engaging the sliding floss holder 205 that communicates with the floss holding mechanism 205 and extends through a second slot 110 in the body 101 so that the sliding floss holder 205 can be extended and retracted by applying pressure forward and aft, respectively, upon the finger-engagement means 109. The finger-engagement means 109 is able to have many forms. The exemplary embodiments of the present invention that are illustrated in FIGS. 1-3 use a small knob for the finger engagement means 109. However, as should be obvious to those of ordinary skill in the art in view of the present discussion, any mechanism that imparts sliding movement to the floss holding mechanism 205 may be used.

[0036] A platform finger engagement means integrated toothbrush and flossing device 400 according to an alternative embodiment of the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 4. The platform finger engagement means integrated toothbrush and flossing device 400 includes a finger engagement means 109a that consists of a platform 109a with ridges that are slightly raised above the surface of the body 101. The platform 109a of this alternative embodiment fits in recess 402 within body 101.

Location of the Finger-Engagement Means on the Body

[0037] The exemplary embodiment of the integrated toothbrush and flossing device 100 uses a finger-engagement means 109 that is on the fore-end 120 of the integrated toothbrush and flossing device 100, i.e., above the bristles 102. Alternative embodiments position the finger-engagement means 109 on the side of the fore-end 120 of the body 101, i.e., adjacent to the bristles 102. Yet other embodiments place the finger engagement means 109 sufficiently far back on the body 101 so that the finger-engagement means 109 does not enter the mouth when the user is brushing or flossing his or her teeth. The opposite-end flossing device 300 further illustrated the slider floss holder 205, which includes the finger-engagement means 109, as incorporated into the butt-end 122 of the body 101 instead of into the fore-end 120. It is clear that the invention is not limited as to what portion of the toothbrush the finger-engagement means protrudes from.

Securing the floss to the arms

[0038] Embodiments of the present invention use various means for securing a portion of floss to the arms 206 of the sliding floss holder 205. Embodiments provide grooves (not shown) in the ends of the arms 206, the grooves having walls that are spaced sufficiently close together such that the floss, when pressed into the grooves, is held securely by the frictional forces between the floss and the walls of the grooves.

Design elements that provide additional function

[0039] Embodiments of the present invention are designed to make the integrated toothbrush and flossing device, as well as the chore of flossing teeth, more attractive to children. Some of these embodiments take advantage of the analogy between the extension/retraction movement of the sliding floss holder 205 and the extension/retraction movement of an animal's tongue. The opposite-end flossing device 300 includes features such as the simulated eyes 312, or other anatomical features, to enhance the functionality of the invention by making the flossing experience more fun for children. Variations of characters and/or simulated animal designs for integrated toothbrush and flossing devices are illustrated, according to alternative embodiments of the present invention, in FIG. 13 and FIG. 14, respectively. It is to be noted that the alternative embodiments illustrated in FIGS. 13 and 14 have the flossing device attached to the butt end 122 of the body 101 of those embodiments.

Pivot-able floss-holder

[0040] In addition to the embodiments described above that include a sliding floss holder 205, other embodiments utilize different means for extending and retracting a floss holder from the body 101. These different means should be obvious to those to whom the inventive concept has been disclosed as discussed herein. For instance, a pivot-able floss holder integrated toothbrush and flossing device 500 according to an alternative embodiment of the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 5. The pivot-able floss holder integrated toothbrush and flossing device 500 uses a pivot-able floss holder 502 in place of the sliding floss holder 205 of the above embodiments. The pivot-able floss holder 502 of this alternative embodiment is attached to the body 101 of the pivot-able floss holder integrated toothbrush and flossing device 500 at a pivot point and secured by a pivot pin 513. The pivot-able floss holder 502 can then be placed in an extended or folded configuration by swinging the pivot-able floss holder 502 much like opening and closing a pocket-knife. Although the pivot-able floss holder integrated toothbrush and flossing device 500 shows the pivot point and pivot pin 513 placed at or near the middle of the body 101, alternative embodiments place the pivot point and pivot in at the very fore-end 120, thus allowing the pivot-able floss holder 502 to pivot out from the front of the pivot-able floss holder integrated toothbrush and flossing device 500.

[0041] In the folded configuration, the pivot-able floss holder 502 is mostly enclosed within the body 101. The pivot-able floss holder integrated toothbrush and flossing device 500 of this alternative embodiment allows the edge of the pivot-able floss holder 502 to extend sufficiently far enough outside the body 101 so as to allow the user to grab and extend the pivot-able floss holder 502 and rotate it into its operating position.

[0042] As with the sliding floss holder 205, when the pivot-able floss holder 502 is moved from the retracted position to the extended position, floss is pulled from the spool 103. Embodiments guide the floss from the spool 103 to the arms 106 by means of a channel 108 in the body 101.

Replaceable Floss Holder

[0043] The embodiments discussed above, and their variations, describe a floss holder that is preferably permanently incorporated into the integrated toothbrush and flossing device. However, the floss holder also anticipates a removable/replaceable (or detachable/ replaceable) floss holder. Alternative embodiments of the present invention utilize floss holders that are physically detachable from the sliding mechanism. Such a floss holder may, for example, be a commonly available flossing device called a “floss pick”. A floss pick has a floss holder at one end of a small rod, with a section of floss permanently attached to the floss holder. The other end of the rod is pointed so that it can be used as a toothpick. The rod itself typically has a cross-section of a flattened oval, with the long diameter being about 2 mm. Such floss picks are typically on the order of only 8 cm long, which makes it difficult to use them to reach the rear-most teeth.

[0044] A detachable floss holder integrated toothbrush and flossing device 600 according to an alternative embodiment of the present invention is illustrated in FIGS. 6A and 6B. A detachable floss holder integrated toothbrush and flossing device 650 (in a retracted floss holder position) is illustrated in FIG. 6A, and the detachable floss holder integrated toothbrush and flossing device 660 (in an extended floss holder position) is illustrated in FIG. 6B. The detachable floss holder integrated toothbrush and flossing device 600 of this embodiment dispenses with the floss holder, the floss storage means, and the floss dispensing means that were integrated into the body of the above discussed embodiments. In place of those components, a sliding element 604 is provided in the body 101 that can removably receive a floss holder 602, such as a floss pick.

[0045] The floss holder 602 includes two arms 606 to hold a portion of floss 608. The floss holder 602 is inserted with its pointed end 612 first into a first slot 614 of the body 101 and pushed into a hole 616 in the sliding element 604. The hole 616 has a flattened oval cross-section to accommodate the floss holder 602 and thereby holds it securely. The floss pick 602 thus becomes analogous to the sliding floss holder 205 described above. When retracted within the body 101, as shown for the retracted floss holder detachable floss holder integrated toothbrush and flossing device 650, the floss holder 602 is out of the way when brushing teeth. When the floss holder 602 is extended, as shown for the extended floss holder detachable floss holder integrated toothbrush and flossing device 660, it can easily be used to reach the rear-most teeth. When the floss 608 wears out, the floss holder 602 can be quickly removed and replaced.

Powered Floss Holder

[0046] A powered flossing device 700 according to an embodiment of the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 7. The powered flossing device 700 is able to be incorporated into a stand-alone device or to be incorporated into an integrated toothbrush and flossing device. This embodiment shows a replaceable floss holder 602 that is substantially similar to the replaceable floss holder 602 described above. The base 730 of the removable floss holder 602 is attached to a floss holder drive 728 at the drive junction 724. The floss holder drive 728 drives the floss holder 602 in a vertical up and down motion to facilitate flossing of the user's teeth. The floss holder 602 used in this embodiment includes a ridge 706 to is engaged upon the downward movement of ejector 704 to cause the floss holder 602 to separate from the floss holder drive 728 at the holder junction 726 and result in the ejection of the floss holder 602.

[0047] Floss holder drive 728 is held into position in this embodiment by drive bracket 726. Drive bracket 726 allows the floss holder drive 728 to wiggle in a vertical direction to cause similar movement of the floss holder 602. The driven end 732 of the floss holder drive 728 includes a slot 722 into which a drive pin 720 is inserted. Drive pin 720 is attached to a second drive gear 716 at an off-center location to cause the driven end 732 of the floss holder drive 728 to move in a vertical motion as the second drive gear 716 rotates. Slot 722 allows the floss holder drive 728 to move in a vertical manner without horizontal movement as the second drive gear 716 turns. The Second drive gear 716 is driven by a first drive gear 714 in this embodiment. The first drive gear 714 is driven by a motor 712. Motor 712 is held in place by motor bracket 718 and is powered by one or more “AA” batteries 710. Power to the motor 712 is controlled by the floss drive switch 708. The powered flossing device 700 of the exemplary embodiment moves the floss 608 in an up and down manner relative to the body 122a.

Floss Holder Dispenser

[0048] A floss holder dispenser 800 according to an embodiment of the present invention is illustrated with a top-down view in FIG. 8. The floss holder dispenser 800 is a magazine of floss holders 852, such as floss picks, that allows a floss holder 852 to be extended through magazine opening 830 for use, removed and discarded, and then allows a new floss holder 852 to be readied for use.

[0049] The magazine floss holders 852 are similar to the removable floss holder 602 described above. The magazine floss holders 852 of this embodiment further contain two (2) engagement holes 804 to allow engagement and movement of the magazine floss holders as is described below.

[0050] Floss holder dispenser 800 has a number of floss holders 852. The exemplary floss holder dispenser 800 is shown to contain five (5) floss holders 852, and other embodiments are able to hold a different number of floss holders 852. The floss holders 852 are positioned side-by-side to allow the next floss holder 860, which is simply the magazine floss holder 852 that is to be next used, to slide into position as a previously used floss holder 852 is removed.

[0051] Floss holder dispenser 800 has a floss holder slide mechanism 812 that moves the next floss holder 860 into either a retracted position for storage or into an extended position for use in flossing the user's teeth. The floss holder slide mechanism 812 is has a knob 814 that extends through a case slot 810. The case slot is cut into dispenser case 828 to allow access to and control the movement of the floss holder slid mechanism 812. The floss holder slide mechanism 812 is shown to be in it's mid-point position which places the next magazine floss holder 860 into a retracted position. Sliding the floss holder mechanism 812 to its rightmost position places the next magazine floss holder 852 into an extended position and ready for use. Once the next magazine floss holder 860 is extended, the user is able to grab it and disengage it from the floss holder slide mechanism. Once the next magazine floss holder 860 is removed, the user is able to move the floss holder slide mechanism 812 to its leftmost position, which is a reload position. When the floss holder slide mechanism 812 is in its leftmost position, the holder engagement pins 818 on the floss holder slide mechanism 812 will engage the engagement holes 804 of the magazine floss holder 852 that is on the top of the stack of magazine floss holders 852. That magazine floss holder 852 will then become the next magazine floss holder 860 and further sliding of the floss holder slide mechanism will position it as discussed above.

[0052] The magazine floss holders 852 are held into position against the floss holder slide mechanism 812 by springs 808, which press against block 806. This keeps a variable number of magazine floss holders 852 in position against the floss holder slide mechanism 812 and ready for use. The next floss holder 860 is more securely held into position during use by stabilizers 820 that are placed near magazine opening 830.

[0053] Embodiments of the present invention mount a floss holder dispenser 800 within the handle of a toothbrush. These embodiments allow the floss holder dispenser 800 to be removed and replaced by various means that attach the floss holder dispenser 800 to the toothbrush. An example is the use of an access door that secures the floss holder dispenser 800 when the door is closed, but that allows the floss holder dispenser to be removed and replaced when the door is opened.

[0054] Embodiments of the present invention incorporate a floss holder dispenser 800 into a device that provides a powered floss holder, similar to the power floss holder 700 discussed above. An example of such an embodiment includes a magazine floss holder drive connector 824 that extends to a floss holder drive 728, which is similar to the floss holder drive 728 discussed above. The operation of the floss holder drive 728 is also similar to that discussed above. In this embodiment, the floss holder drive 728 drives the floss holder slide mechanism 812, which, in turn, drives the next magazine floss holder 860.

[0055] A holder slider top view 900 of the floss holder slide mechanism 812 according to an embodiment of the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 9. The floss holder slide mechanism 812 has a knob 814 that fits through case slot 810. Knob 814 is shown to have a width of dimension ‘N’ which is chosen to fit into case slot 810. The floss holder slide mechanism 812 has a total width of ‘L’ that is larger than ‘N.’ This ensures that the floss holder slide mechanism 812 is retained within the dispenser case 828. The holder engagement pins 818 are shown to depend from the bottom of the floss holder slide mechanism 812.

[0056] A floss holder slide mechanism side view 1000 according to an embodiment of the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 10. The features of the floss holder slide mechanism 812 are highlighted, especially the knob 814 and the holder engagement pins 818. The knob 814 is shown to be a height ‘R,’ which is selected to extend a small amount above the dispenser case 828 to allow a user's finger to engage the knob 814 and slide the floss holder slide mechanism 812 to operate the magazine floss holders 852 as described above.

[0057] A floss holder slide mechanism longitudinal view 1100 according to an embodiment of the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 11. The features of the floss holder slide mechanism 812 are highlighted, especially the knob 814 and the holder engagement pins 818. The knob 814 is shown to be a width ‘N,’ as discussed above. The holder engagement pins 818 are shown to be a width ‘M’ that is chosen to allow the holder engagement pins 818 to fit into the holder engagement holes 804.

Powered Toothbrush and Tongue Scraper

[0058] A powered toothbrush 1200 according to an embodiment of the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 12. The powered toothbrush 1200 can be integrated with a tooth flossing device, such as the tooth flossing devices described above, to form an integrated toothbrush and flossing device. It is clear that other powered toothbrush designs can equally be integrated with a tooth flossing device to provide an integrated toothbrush and flossing device. The powered toothbrush 1200 of this embodiment includes one or more ‘AA’ sized batteries 1208, a motor 1210 and a toothbrush power switch 1206 to control power flow to the motor 1210. The motor 1210 drives a motor shaft 1212 that turns first gear 1214. First gear 1214 drives a gear box that includes second gear 1216 and outputs power to drive gear 1218. Drive gear 1218 has a drive shaft 1220 that is mounted at an off-center location on the face of drive gear 1218. Drive shaft 1220 engages a slot (not shown) on output shaft 1230 so as to move output shaft 1202 in a lateral left-right and right to left motion to provide power tooth cleaning. The output shaft 1230 has a shaft interface 1204 that allows a removable toothbrush head 1202 to be removably attached and detached to the output shaft 1230 and used by the powered toothbrush 1200. The powered toothbrush 1200 of this embodiment also allows a tongue scraper attachment 1228 to be used by the powered toothbrush 1200. The tongue scraper attachment 1228 has a scraper area 1224, a shaft 1222 and a mounting interface 1226 that is used to removably attach the tongue scraper attachment 1228 to the shaft interface 1204 for use as a powered tongue scraper.

[0059] Although specific embodiments of the invention have been disclosed, those having ordinary skill in the art will understand that changes can be made to the specific embodiments without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. The scope of the invention is not to be restricted, therefore, to the specific embodiments, and it is intended that the appended claims cover any and all such applications, modifications, and embodiments within the scope of the present invention.





 
Previous Patent: Cosmetics container

Next Patent: Tongue scraper/dental flosser