Title:
Means for aiding the dispensing of proper amounts of toothpaste and discouraging use of excessively dispensed amounts
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A device designed to promote the placement on a toothbrush of not more than a predetermined amount of toothpaste. A preferred embodiment physically encourages the relative positioning of a toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste such that when toothpaste is squeezed from its tube it is dispensed substantially on top of and across the toothbrush's bristle bunches rather than lengthwise along the top of the bunches. The device is designed to provide visual encouragement to an individual to stop dispensing toothpaste when an appropriate amount has been dispensed. Furthermore, the device generally prevents any excessively dispensed toothpaste from remaining on the toothbrush.



Inventors:
Goldman, Ira H. (Washington, DC, US)
Application Number:
09/917980
Publication Date:
03/28/2002
Filing Date:
07/30/2001
Assignee:
GOLDMAN IRA H.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
141/114, 141/386
International Classes:
A47K5/18; (IPC1-7): B65B3/16
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
DOUGLAS, STEVEN O
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Ira H. Goldman (Washington, DC, US)
Claims:

I claim:



1. A means for discouraging the dispensing of toothpaste beyond a predetermined amount from a toothpaste container onto bristle bunches of a toothbrush by encouraging, through physical guidance provided by a device, the establishment of a defined relative orientation and proximity of such bunches and an opening through which toothpaste is dispensed from the toothpaste container before the toothpaste is dispensed.

2. The means of claim 1 wherein the device comprises at least one component that otherwise restricts the placing of the bristle bunches proximate to the opening through which toothpaste is dispensed in a manner that would be advantageous for use of the toothbrush and toothpaste in combination to promote dental hygiene.

3. The means of claim 2 wherein the orientation and proximity are such that the direction in which the toothpaste is expelled from the container is generally across the breadth of the bristle bunches of a toothbrush.

4. The means of claim 2 wherein the orientation and proximity are such that the direction in which the toothpaste is expelled from the container causes a substantial portion of the toothpaste to become embedded in the bristle bunches of the toothbrush.

5. The means of claim 4 wherein the toothpaste is dispensed into the bristle bunches depthwise towards the inner face of the handle, such that, once an amount within a range of predetermined amounts has been dispensed, the dispensing of additional amounts will create back-pressure against the flow of such additional amounts from the container, thereby providing tactile feedback to an individual dispensing such additional amounts to suggest that it would not be advantageous to continue doing so.

6. A method that establishes the size of the opening through which toothpaste is dispensed from a toothpaste container such that when the measured area of such opening is multiplied by a predetermined length of dispensed toothpaste it yields a volume of toothpaste that is advantageous for a particular purpose.

7. The method of claim 6 wherein an object of the method is to limit the use of fluoridated toothpaste dispensed into contact with the bristle bunches of a toothbrush to be used to enhance the cleaning of a person's teeth and to that end factors in the level of fluoride and fluoride-related components in the toothpaste.

8. A method, whose object is to discourage the dispensing of toothpaste from its container beyond a predetermined amount, which requires an individual, after having dispensed such predetermined amount of toothpaste from a toothpaste container by applying pressure to a portion of the container so as to force out such amount through an opening in the container, the individual is required to apply a greater degree of pressure, as discernible to the individual, in order to dispense additional toothpaste.

9. The method of claim 8 wherein the requirement for an increase in pressure is produced by limiting the movement of toothpaste that has already been dispensed away from the opening through which toothpaste is dispensed from the toothpaste container, thereby creating back-pressure.

10. A method for enhancing the beneficial use of toothpaste in combination with a toothbrush as an aid in the cleaning of teeth as part of a toothbrushing process, as well as a method for discouraging the waste or other unintended disposition of such toothpaste, such method comprising a process whereby, as it is dispensed from its container, a substantial portion of one or more unified portions of the dispensed toothpaste is forced into the bristle bunches of the toothbrush rather than simply on top of such bunches, thereby discouraging the separation of such one or more unified portions of the toothpaste from the bunches prior to the toothpaste serving its intended purpose as a dentifrice.

11. A device, an object of which is to discourage the dispensing of toothpaste from a toothpaste container into advantageous contact with the bristle bunches of a toothbrush unless a predetermined relative proximity and orientation have been established between such bunches and the opening through which toothpaste is dispensed from such container, such device comprising at least one component that otherwise discourages the placing of the bristle bunches of the toothbrush proximate to the opening through which toothpaste is dispensed in a manner that would be advantageous for dispensing toothpaste onto the such bristles, not comprising one or more elements that physically inhibit the dispensing of amounts of toothpaste in excess of predetermined amounts, and having an object of preventing the over-dispensing of toothpaste onto the bristle bunches.

12. The device of claim 11, one of whose objects is to prevent the overuse of fluoridated toothpaste, overuse of which can have deleterious health effects,

13. The device of claim 12 that further comprises at least one component which serves to limit to a predetermined amount the toothpaste that remains in advantageous contact with the bristle bunches of a toothbrush when the amount of toothpaste that has been dispensed from its container exceeds such predetermined amount.

14. The device of claim 13 wherein amounts of toothpaste which have come into contact with the bristle bunches of the toothbrush are diverted away from ongoing contact with such bristle bunches by a combination of elements within a group of elements comprising the shape of at least one component of the device, the relative orientation of the bristle bunches of the toothbrush, the toothpaste container, and the opening of such container through which toothpaste is dispensed, and the propulsive force of additional amounts of toothpaste being dispensed from the toothpaste container which causes to be moved the earlier-expelled amounts of toothpaste.

15. The device of claim 14 which comprises at least one element that, in combination with the removal of the toothbrush and the bristle bunches from the aforementioned predetermined relative proximity and orientation, causes the removal of amounts of excess toothpaste from immediate proximity to the bristle bunches of the toothbrush.

16. The device of claim 12 whose shape is complementary to the shape of an existing closing means of a toothpaste container such that the device and the closing means can be advantageously combined with each other and the toothpaste container simultaneously.

17. The device of claim 12 which additionally serves as a closing means for the toothpaste container.

18. The device of claim 12 which comprises at least one component that is shaped in a fashion that is complementary to an element of the toothpaste container so as to permit secure engagement between the device and the container, and wherein their secure engagement serves the objects of the invention, namely facilitating a predetermined relative proximity and orientation of the container, its opening, and the bristle bunches prior to dispensing of toothpaste onto such bunches, and discouraging such dispensing in the absence of such proximity and orientation.

19. The device of claim 12 which is physically integrated with the container in a manner such that the device is not intended to be disengaged from such integration after manufacture and distribution of the container and device to consumers.

20. A device, an object of which is to encourage the dispensing of toothpaste from a toothpaste container, into advantageous contact with the bristle bunches of a toothbrush, in amounts that do not exceed a predetermined amount, wherein at least one element of such device provides such encouragement by providing visual guidance as to a proper length of a ribbon of toothpaste that should be forcibly dispensed from such container in order to achieve such predetermined amount, such element serving as a visual guide in essentially immediate proximity to the bristle bunches as the toothpaste is dispensed.

Description:

REFERENCE—PRIORITY CLAIM

[0001] This application claims the benefit of prior provisional patent application No. 60/222,361 with filing date Aug. 1, 2000.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The goal of the invention is to appropriately limit the amount of toothpaste dispensed from its container by a consumer who wishes to use toothpaste in combination with a toothbrush to clean his/her teeth or someone else's teeth. More precisely, the invention discourages the over-dispensing of toothpaste from a toothpaste tube onto a toothbrush and rather encourages the dispensing of a proper amount of toothpaste onto a toothbrush for use by individuals desiring to clean their teeth and otherwise promote the health of their teeth or, perhaps, a child's teeth.

[0003] One aspect of the invention that aids in the accomplishment of this goal entails its encouraging of a consumer to position his/her toothbrush, relative to the opening of a container from which toothpaste is dispensed, in a certain orientation and a certain proximity. This encouragement emanates from visual cues and/or physical guidance provided by the design of the invention. Another such aspect entails its encouraging of the consumer to stop forcing toothpaste out of its container, such as a toothpaste tube, when a predetermined amount of toothpaste has been dispensed. This latter encouragement emanates from visual cues and/or tactile feedback. Such visual cues can entail a view opening in the invention that is of a predetermined size such that when toothpaste dispensed from its container fully blocks the opening, or a predetermined portion of the opening, the proper amount of toothpaste has been dispensed. Such tactile feedback can entail a means by which the physical effort necessary to force toothpaste out of its container, such as a toothpaste tube, is noticeably increased when the proper amount of toothpaste has been dispensed.

[0004] There are numerous prior-art devices designed to facilitate the dispensing of toothpaste onto a toothbrush. In some instances these devices primarily are intended to provide convenience for consumers, in the sense that consumers are relieved of the supposed burden of actually having to squeeze a toothpaste tube in order to eject from within it a desired amount of toothpaste. In other instances the devices are primarily intended to dispense a predetermined amount of toothpaste, such amounts sometimes being adjustable by the user. One generally common feature of these devices, of both types, is that they are complex, often involving moving parts during the dispensing process, beyond the movement of the toothpaste tube and the toothpaste, themselves. At least in part due to such complexity, they are commercially expensive to manufacture, generally entailing costs well beyond the costs of manufacture of the toothpaste, toothpaste tube, and cap for the tube. The instant invention, on the other hand, is simple in its design and susceptibility of manufacture, at least in part due to the fact that it requires no moving parts during the dispensing of toothpaste from the tube.

[0005] The Wells Patent (Wells), U.S. Pat. No. 5,518,051, discloses an “apparatus for adapting toothpaste dispensers for use by physically challenged individuals and more particularly relates to dispenser holders, adaptive handles and toothbrush guides.” To promote its objects, Wells proposes a series of means for achieving advantageous relative orientations and proximities between a toothbrush and the opening of a tube of toothpaste, as well as means for making it easier to propel toothpaste from its container. As disclosed by Wells, these means are intended to make it convenient for certain individuals, without assistance from a helper, to dispense toothpaste actually onto the bristle bunches of a toothbrush, versus toothpaste being dispensed and not coming into advantageous contact with such bristle bunches. Wells does not disclose or suggest aspects or objects concerning the amount of toothpaste dispensed, the handling of any amounts that were dispensed in excess of any predetermined amount, or the amount that is present on the toothbrush when it is removed from one of his devices prior to the toothbrush being used to clean an individual's teeth.

[0006] In addition to the novel elements of the devices, means, and methods of the instant invention, objects of the instant invention stand apart from prior art.

[0007] The benefit of limiting the amount of toothpaste dispensed for use by a consumer is more than a mere matter of convenience or aesthetics—especially when the person whose teeth will be cleaned is a child. Clinical studies have shown that overuse of fluoridated toothpaste by young children, whether brushing their teeth on their own or having their teeth brushed by someone older, such as a parent, can lead to permanent damage of the teeth.

[0008] Clinical studies have also shown that overuse of fluoridated toothpaste can lead to systemic problems such as fluorosis. Fluorosis can result when, on repeated occasions, a child ingests toothpaste during the toothbrushing process—whether by swallowing some of the abundance of foam created by the toothpaste and the brushing process or by directly swallowing unprocessed toothpaste that has been dispensed on the bristle bunches of a toothbrush. The fact that candy-like flavors are often added to toothpastes, generally to encourage toothpaste use during brushing and to encourage adequate brushing, can also encourage such ingestion. Overall, these clinical studies have provided bases for concern even after factoring in fluoride exposure from naturally occurring fluoride and from artificially fluoridated water.

[0009] By limiting the amount of toothpaste present on the toothbrush when the brushing process begins, the detrimental effects of overuse and incidental ingestion of fluoridated toothpaste can be advantageously reduced. Furthermore, by applying toothpaste to the toothbrush in a manner that reduces the likelihood that the toothpaste will become dislodged from the toothbrush inside a person's mouth before the toothpaste has served its purpose as a dentifrice, the likelihood of ingestion of fluoride can also be reduced.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0010] The invention is based on the object of promoting the dispensing of an appropriate amount of toothpaste from its container to be used with a toothbrush to clean an individual's teeth. Described in the alternative, the object is to limit the amount of toothpaste dispensed from its container to be used with a toothbrush. While such limitation serves aesthetic purposes, its main goal is to prevent the overuse of fluoridated toothpaste, especially by children for whom overuse can actually damage teeth and lead to fluorosis.

[0011] A preferred embodiment of the invention physically and visually encourages the dispensing of toothpaste from a squeezable tube directly into the bristle bunches of a toothbrush, versus the most common approach wherein toothpaste is dispensed along the top of the bristle bunches, usually lengthwise, with such bunches serving as a platform. When toothpaste is dispensed directly into the bristle bunches, the dispensing of toothpaste beyond a certain amount requires a user-discernible increase in pressure being applied to the tube beyond that which was necessary to initially dispense toothpaste into the bristle bunches, and this feedback mechanism provides notice to the user that additional toothpaste should not be dispensed. This feedback, along with visual and other cues facilitated by novel attributes of the invention, when combined with certain complementary, advantageous attributes of toothbrushes, toothpaste, and toothpaste tubes, benefits consumers who otherwise might be harmed by the overuse of toothpaste, especially fluoridated toothpaste, in its application to teeth and, in some instances, ingestion of such toothpaste.

[0012] In the preferred embodiments of the invention, the device is manufactured of a plastic material, such as that commonly used for the caps on toothpaste tubes. Other plastic materials would also be appropriate, as could non-plastic materials—depending on, in each instance, the ease and low cost of manufacture, including easy moldability, the ability to efficiently achieve physical integrity necessary to protect against breakage, and the ability to efficiently protect consumers against physical and/or toxic injury from the device, itself.

[0013] The material used to manufacture the device embodying the invention may be either clear, translucent, or opaque. In the embodiment first described herein, the material is opaque; in the second-described embodiment, the material is translucent. Overall, whether by placement of elements of the disclosed devices, openings in such devices, and/or translucence of elements of the devices, embodiments of the invention that allow a user to observe the actual movement of toothpaste from the toothpaste tube onto the bristle bunches of the toothbrush can further the objects of the invention, as described below.

[0014] It should also be known that while the first-described preferred embodiment encourages the dispensing of toothpaste directly into the bristle bunches of a toothbrush from one particular direction, the invention also anticipates the dispensing of toothpaste into such bunches from other directions as guided by an alternate embodiment of the invention, such that, at an appropriate predetermined interval, visual cues and/or tactile feedback are provided to indicate to the consumer to stop dispensing toothpaste.

[0015] Additionally, the invention anticipates the dispensing of toothpaste on top of the bristle bunches but with visual guidance provided by an alternate preferred embodiment of the invention indicating when the proper amount of toothpaste has been dispensed by the consumer activating the dispensing of toothpaste from its container, such as by squeezing a toothpaste tube, activating a pumping means to expel toothpaste from its container, or causing an automated device to do the same. And, the invention anticipates the dispensing of toothpaste on top of the bristle bunches but with physical guidance provided by an alternate embodiment of the invention such that a consumer is encouraged to position his/her toothbrush, relative to the toothpaste tube, in a certain proximity and orientation before he/she activates the dispensing of toothpaste from its container, such as by squeezing the toothpaste tube. And, the invention anticipates embodiments that incorporate various combinations of the above.

[0016] For example, another preferred embodiment of the invention physically encourages the relative positioning of a toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste such that when toothpaste is squeezed from the tube it is positioned substantially on top of the bristle bunches across such bunches rather than in the typical fashion lengthwise along the top of the bunches. The consumer is instructed to stop squeezing the tube when the length of the expelled toothpaste approximates the breadth of the bristle bunches. Using this crosswise approach has been recommended by health professionals as a way to discern when the proper amount of toothpaste has been dispensed—the so-called “pea-sized amount”. However, consumers motivated solely by verbal or written instructions have generally not adopted this approach.

[0017] This latter preferred embodiment entails a design that, like the initially-preferred embodiment, discourages the dispensing of toothpaste from the tube onto the toothbrush except when they are positioned in the desired mutual orientation and proximity. As described in detail, below, this latter preferred embodiment does not entail the novel tactile feedback aspect utilized in the initially-described embodiment of the invention. However, this latter design is susceptible to incorporation of this feedback feature.

[0018] While the preferred embodiments of the invention described herein are designed to replace the cap typically found attached in a threaded fashion to a toothpaste tube, the invention anticipates alternate embodiments wherein they work in advantageous combination with such cap—for example, augmenting one or more functions and/or components of the cap such that the cap provides one or more means to accomplish the goal of the invention, such as by aiding in the relative orientation of the toothpaste tube and a toothbrush. Or, the cap may simply be used to removably attach the novel device to the toothpaste tube, with such cap continuing to serve its intended function of closing the tube in order to protect its contents and prevent unintended dispensing of toothpaste.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0019] Preferred embodiments of the invention are described below with reference to:

[0020] FIG. 1 A cross section view of a preferred embodiment, a toothpaste limiter, along with a toothpaste tube and a toothbrush, all advantageously engaged with each other;

[0021] FIG. 2 A perspective, hidden-line view of the toothpaste limiter, advantageously engaged with a toothpaste tube;

[0022] FIG. 3 A perspective, partially cutaway, hidden-line view of the toothpaste limiter;

[0023] FIG. 4 A perspective, exploded view of another preferred embodiment, an application guide, depicted with a relevant portion of a toothbrush; and

[0024] FIG. 5 A side view of the application guide, along with a toothpaste tube attached thereto, and with a toothbrush advantageously inserted into the guide. 1

REFERENCE NUMERALS IN DRAWINGS
 3 1toothbrush
 2handle
 2 ainner face
 2 bouter face
 2 cfront face
 3bristle bunches
 3 abristle bunch
 9toothpaste limiter
10lid
11cover section
11 aupper face
11 blower face
12tab
12 atab upper face
12 btab lower face
12 cplug
13hinging means
14base
14 atop face
15attaching receiver
16left side
16 aleft interior surface
16 bleft exterior surface
16 cleft viewing means
17right side
17 aright interior surface
17 bright exterior surface
17 cright viewing means
18limiter opening
19block
19 ablock face
20toothpaste tube
20 areservoir component
21protrusion
21 aattaching means
21 bpassageway
22pathway
25drainage space
26overflow space
27back
27 aback face
28lid frame
29platform
29 aplatform face
30application guide

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0025] FIG. 1 shows a cross section of a prior-art toothbrush 1, advantageously engaged with a toothpaste limiter 9, and the toothpaste limiter advantageously engaged with a prior-art toothpaste container, toothpaste tube 20, so as to further the novel methods, means, and objects of the invention.

[0026] Toothbrush 1 comprises a handle 2 and a bristle bunches 3. The handle comprises an inner face 2a, an outer face 2b, and a front face 2c. Bristle bunch 3a and a plurality of additional such bunches, which may not be identical in shape, size, or composition, to each other, combine to constitute bristle bunches 3. Individual bristles are not depicted.

[0027] Toothpaste tube 20 comprises a protrusion 21 and a reservoir component 20a. The protrusion comprises an attaching means 21 a, disclosed here as threading, as well as a passageway 21b. The reservoir component holds toothpaste, which is not depicted.

[0028] Toothpaste limiter 9 comprises a lid 10, a base 14, a hinging means 13, an attaching receiver 15, and a pathway 22, as well as a left side 16 and right side 17. It also comprises a limiter opening 18 and a block 19. Lid 10 comprises a cover section 11, which comprises an upper face 11 a and a lower face 11 b; lid 10 also comprises a tab 12, which comprises a tab upper face 12a, a tab lower face 12b, and a plug 12c. Block 19 comprises a block face 19a.

[0029] Left side 16 comprises left interior surface 16a, left exterior surface 16b, and left viewing means 16c. Right side 17 comprises right interior surface 17a, right exterior surface 17b, and right viewing means 17c.

[0030] As shown in FIG. 1, lid 10 has been pivoted at hinging means 13 into a fully open position. Further rotation of the lid is prevented by a combination of the functions of the hinging means and tab 12, whose tab inner face 12b comes into contact with base 14 and thereby prevents further rotation in the opening direction.

[0031] In FIG. 1 and FIG. 2, the toothpaste limiter is shown removably attached to toothpaste tube 20 by the engagement of complementary attaching means 21a of protrusion 21 and attaching receiver 15. While this engagement is designed such that toothpaste limiter 9 can work effectively with toothpaste tubes generally sold today, which generally utilize a threaded protrusion as disclosed here in the drawings, other types of engagement could be similarly advantageous. For example, the toothpaste limiter could be integrated into a toothpaste container, whether or not such container is intended to be squeezed as is a toothpaste tube.

[0032] In FIG. 2 and FIG. 3, lid 10 is shown in a partially open/closed position, suggesting its range of movement. When lid 10 is closed by its pivoting at hinging means 13, inner face 10b is brought into direct contact with top face 14a along their surfaces. Additionally, plug 12c is generally engaged with limiter opening 18 such that the plug fills such opening. In this closed position, the dispensing of toothpaste from the toothpaste tube is discouraged, while infiltration of air into the tube is also discouraged. The complementary shapes of the plug and the opening may be such that they would aid, such as by friction, in keeping the lid in the closed position until it is opened intentionally; or, another secure-closure means can be employed.

[0033] The overall design of the depicted embodiment of the invention encourages a single advantageous positioning of the toothbrush, and especially its bristle bunches, relative to limiter opening 18 through which toothpaste is dispensed onto the brush. The pathway defined by the combination of left interior surface 1 6a, right interior surface 17a, block face 19a, and top face 14a is sized to generally allow, or at least distinctly encourage, this positioning. Additional parts could be added or made addable to one or more of these components to accommodate variations in size of toothbrushes and bristle bunches; to this same end, flexible materials could be used for the manufacture of these components; or, to this same end, hinging means could be used to connect these components to adjoining parts such that these components could be moved in or out in order to advantageously adjust the size of the pathway.

[0034] Again, the goal of the invention is to discourage dispensing of toothpaste in amounts exceeding healthy levels, as recommended by government health officials and other health experts. The invention pursues this goal by both discouraging certain relative orientations of the toothbrush and toothpaste tube when toothpaste is dispensed and encouraging others. It also pursues this goal by providing novel means of feedback.

[0035] So, for example, if a consumer attempted to dispense toothpaste from toothpaste tube 20, which has been engaged with toothpaste limiter 9 as shown, in the traditional manner by laying a lengthwise ribbon along the bristle bunches, it would be somewhat difficult to do so without leaving substantial amounts of toothpaste on limiter 10, which would be both wasteful and messy. The size of the pathway, the depth of the base and the sides, and the placement and size of the block are established in order to discourage such unintended use. They are also set to encourage intended use.

[0036] In order to use the depicted embodiment as intended, in combination with the toothpaste tube and toothbrush, a consumer first opens lid 10 by pressing down on tab 12. This pivots the lid at hinging means 13. The tab should be pressed until tab inner face 12b comes in contact with base 14. Then, the toothbrush is inserted into pathway 22 until front face 2c of the toothbrush comes into contact with lower face 11 b of the cover section of the lid. At that point, further forward movement of the toothbrush through the pathway is prevented because of the designed limitation in pivoting of the lid.

[0037] Then, the consumer squeezes the toothpaste tube to force toothpaste from reservoir component 20a of the tube through passageway 21 b and then through limiter opening 18 and into initial contact with the bristle bunches. Further squeezing of the tube will force toothpaste into the bristle bunches. This latter process can be viewed through viewing means 16c and 17c. When the amount of toothpaste squeezed from the tube reaches towards the junction of the bristle bunches and inner face 2a, the consumer receives tactile feedback in the form of increased resistance to squeezing out additional toothpaste. This increase in resistance is unlikely to be so severe as to prevent the squeezing out of additional toothpaste; however, the increase in resistance will be noticeable to the consumer as a signal to stop squeezing the tube. Additionally, the visual cues made possible by the viewing means 16c and 17c, allowing the consumer to see when the toothpaste extends most of the depth or all of the depth of the bristle bunches, also provides a signal to the consumer that no additional toothpaste should be dispensed onto the toothbrush.

[0038] It is understood that the viscosity of the toothpaste dispensed in the described fashion is an important element to the success of the described feedback system. For example, if the viscosity of the toothpaste is not much greater than water, this system will not work. The embodiment depicted and described here anticipates the general viscosity of the most popular mass-market toothpastes sold in the United States and worldwide and some variation thereto that would not be so severe as to defeat the novel aspects of the invention.

[0039] A significant aspect of the invention is the setting of the area of the cross section of limiter opening 18 for a specific embodiment of the means and methods of the invention. Such cross section, when multiplied by the anticipated depth of bristle bunches, wherein depth is measured perpendicularly from inner face 2a of the toothbrush, should approximate the proper volume of toothpaste to be dispensed, with a predetermined level of acceptable variation. To the extent that overuse of fluoridated toothpaste is a concern, to the extent that the amount of fluoride in the toothpastes sold in a market are generally similar, and to the extent that the relevant size of toothbrushes in such market is generally similar or their variation in size is subject to accommodation by adjusting features of the embodiment, such cross section can be standardized. However, to the extent that different volumes of fluoridated toothpaste of a given strength are recommended for adults versus adolescents versus children versus toddlers, devices with various-sized openings could be appropriate.

[0040] A significant aspect of one of the depicted embodiments of the invention is that it forces the toothpaste directly into the bristle bunches of the toothbrush. By embedding the toothpaste in this way, not only is tactile feedback provided, but also a physical limitation is placed on a child's ability to otherwise directly ingest the toothpaste; when toothpaste is simply dispensed on top of the bristle bunches, it is readily susceptible to being ingested—akin to eating butter from a butter knife. However, with certain toothpaste formulations there may be teeth-cleaning benefits to arranging at least some of the toothpaste on top of the bristle bunches—that is, not embedding essentially all of it within the bristle bunches. Therefore, an anticipated alternate embodiment of the invention arranges the relative proximity and orientation of a toothbrush and toothpaste container such that a substantial percentage of the dispensed toothpaste, that is between 5 and 95 percent, is forced into the bristle bunches during the dispensing process.

[0041] A second preferred embodiment of the invention, an application guide 30, is depicted in FIG. 4 and FIG. 5. The application guide promotes the dispensing of toothpaste across bristle bunches 3 rather than directly into such bunches as with toothpaste limiter 9, or along the tops of such bunches as is generally done by consumers.

[0042] Application guide 30 comprises base 14, limiter opening 18, and lid 10. It also comprises left side 16, right side 17, and block 19. In this embodiment, left side 16 comprises left interior surface 16a, while right side 17 comprises right interior surface 17a and an overflow space 26. Application guide 30 also comprises a drainage space 25, a back 27, and a platform 29. Back 27 comprises a back face 27a. Platform 29 comprises a platform face 29a.

[0043] Platform face 29a, left interior surface 16a, block face 19a, and right interior surface 17a together form pathway 22 in the application guide.

[0044] Drainage space 25 is intended to facilitate cleaning of the application guide, such as by the consumer running water into pathway 22, which then can drain through the drainage space. Lid frame 28 provides space for the movement of lid 10 from the closed to the open position.

[0045] The sizing of pathway 22 should be advantageously complementary to the size of the toothbrushes intended to be inserted into it, potentially taking into account variations in the sizes of toothbrushes being sold in a market wherein the described device is being marketed. Such sizing should provide an advantageous fit. For example, sizing should promote the insertion of a toothbrush only in the intended manner to promote the objects of the invention. In some instances, this may require separate devices incorporating different sizing, such as one size for toddlers and one size for pre-school children. Another sizing solution could entail a single-sized pathway 22; the device would be provided to consumers with add-in elements designed to be affixed to the device within the pathway so as to reduce the size of the pathway—depending on the size of the toothbrushes being used by the consumers who obtained the device—to complement the size of a toothbrush. The places for such affixing could comprise, among others, platform face 29a and left interior surface 16a. Another sizing solution would entail flexible elements incorporated into the device within the pathway such that a small toothbrush would be held advantageously in place while larger toothbrushes could still be accommodated by pressing against such flexible elements and thereby moving them to effectively and temporarily increase the size of the pathway.

[0046] It is intended that, when toothbrush 1 is inserted into the pathway, it is inserted until the bristles bunches come into contact with back face 27a. It is also intended that outer face 2b of the toothbrush be in contact with platform face 29a. After the toothbrush is inserted, toothpaste is dispensed onto the toothbrush from toothpaste tube 20 through limiter opening 18 when the consumer squeezes the toothpaste tube's reservoir component 20a.

[0047] This latter preferred embodiment as disclosed in FIG. 4 and FIG. 5 does not provide tactile feedback to indicate to a consumer that he/she should stop dispensing toothpaste from its tube when the proper amount has already been dispensed. Rather, arrangement of its elements and the use of materials in its manufacture tend to visually encourage an individual to dispense only a proper amount of toothpaste from the tube onto the bristle bunches. And, arrangement of its elements further tends to prevent any toothpaste dispensed in excess from remaining in contact with the toothbrush when the toothbrush is removed from advantageous proximity to the embodiment—that is, withdrawn from pathway 22. In this instance, the proper amount of toothpaste is considered generally to be a predetermined volume defined by the area of limiter opening 18 multiplied by the width of the bristle bunches.

[0048] First, the application guide discourages the dispensing of toothpaste onto a toothbrush unless the toothbrush has been inserted into the pathway as depicted in FIG. 5. It does this by preventing the consumer from placing the toothbrush in immediate proximity to the limiter opening other than in the intended fashion—that is, by inserting the bristle bunches of the toothbrush into the pathway. Second, the design of the application guide allows toothpaste to be dispensed only onto the segment of the bristle bunches at the front face end of the toothbrush; so, if the toothbrush is not inserted such that the front-most bristles come into immediate proximity to back face 27a, the dispensed toothpaste will tend to miss the bristle bunches and fall onto platform face 29a and perhaps the front of the toothbrush's inner face 2a.

[0049] Third, once the toothbrush has been inserted as intended into the pathway, if the consumer continues to dispense toothpaste after the proper amount has been dispensed, preceding portions of the toothpaste will tend to flow into and through overflow space 26. Then, when the toothbrush is withdrawn from the pathway, the amount inside of the overflow space will tend to stay there rather than on the toothbrush; and, amounts that flowed through the overflow space and beyond will also not be in contact with the toothbrush when the toothbrush is withdrawn. So, while excess toothpaste will have been dispensed from the toothpaste tube, it will not stay on the bristle bunches. Since a goal of the invention is to prevent the overuse of fluoridated toothpaste, that goal is achieved if any excess amount is not on the toothbrush when the toothbrush is inserted into a person's mouth to brush that person's teeth.

[0050] The foregoing description has been directed to particular embodiments of the invention for the purposes of illustration and explanation. It will become apparent to those skilled in the relevant arts that many modifications and changes are possible without departure from the scope and spirit of the invention. For example, the novel elements of the invention can be adapted for other objects and fields, such as for aiding adults in their use of toothpaste. Also, they can be adapted to aid in the dispensing of proper amounts of other consumer and industrial materials, especially those with like viscous properties to toothpaste. The following claims should be read so as to include such potential changes and adaptations