Title:
Handle-free disposable toothbrush
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A tube about the size of an index finger with attached bristles for brushing teeth, gums, and tongue. The tube has one closed end to fit over the finger. The bristles are short, densely placed, and cover at least one-half of the outer surface of the tube. They are saturated with toothpaste, anti-plaque agent, or mouthwash. Optionally, a flexible loop is attached to the open end of the tube.



Inventors:
Kuhr, Joann (Woodridge, IL, US)
Application Number:
09/939474
Publication Date:
02/27/2003
Filing Date:
08/24/2001
Assignee:
KUHR JOANN
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
15/227, 15/167.1
International Classes:
A46B5/04; (IPC1-7): A46B5/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
TILL, TERRENCE R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JoAnn Kuhr (Woodridge, IL, US)
Claims:

I claim:



1. A handle-free, disposable tooth- and mouth-cleaning device comprising: a. a tube or sleeve with one closed end b. attached bristles c. pre-applied portion of toothpaste, anti-plaque agent, or mouthwash

2. Above with flexible loop attached to open end of tube

3. Above made of thin latex flexible enough to fit tightly on most adult index fingers

4. Above in child and youth sizes

5. Above made of vinyl no more than ¼ inch thick in sizes to fit most child, youth, and adult index fingers

6. 3 or 5 above made with bristles molded of the same material as tube. These bristles are no more than ¼ inch in length and densely placed over at least 50 percent of the tube surface

7. 3 or 5 above made with nylon bristles attached to tube in any manner so that they could not become separated with normal use

8. 6 or 7 above with color coding to indicate location of bristles when tube is rolled

9. 6 or 7 above with bristles attached over entire outer surface of tube

10. Above with various flavors of toothpaste or mouthwash

11. Above with various colors to indicate sizes or flavors

12. Above with various colors for children

Description:

BACKGROUND—FIELD OF INVENTION

[0001] This invention relates to tooth-cleaning apparatus, specifically to toothbrushes.

BACKGROUND—DESCRIPTION OF PRIOR ART

[0002] For as long as such devices have existed, toothbrushes have generally consisted of a solid handle made of a durable material, currently plastic, with bristles, currently made of nylon, attached to a head at one end of the handle. Toothbrushes made for adults are usually longer than 3-4 inches in length with bristles over ¼ inch in length. In recent years, the public has become aware of the problem of sanitation in regards to toothbrushes. Germs multiply rapidly on wet bristles, especially in the environment of a typical bathroom. When a person who has been exposed to bacteria or viruses reuses the same toothbrush, that person can be infected repeatedly. The following devices address this problem:

[0003] Some toothbrushes, especially electric toothbrushes, have replaceable heads. However, it would not be practical to replace the head with every use due to the expense involved. These devices, as well as conventional toothbrushes, are not convenient to use outside one's own home.

[0004] Some toothbrushes have bristles that are coated with an antibacterial agent. In addition to the problem of having to replace them frequently, these devices can have the negative effect of killing good bacteria along with bad, actually lowering resistance to infection.

[0005] Ultraviolet light is used in some bathrooms to retard the growth of bacteria, especially on toothbrushes. However, this method, along with other antibacterial methods, is not necessarily effective against viruses. In any case, it is effective only as long the toothbrush is exposed to the ultraviolet light.

[0006] None of the above devices speaks to the issue of wear. Generally, only a small fraction of the length of toothbrush bristles is ever used. This part of the bristle becomes worn down quickly and brushing becomes much less effective. Dentists recommend frequent replacement of toothbrushes for this reason in addition to sanitary reasons.

[0007] Other devices, such as disposable mouthwash wipes, chewing gum, mints, and sprays, have been marketed to clean the teeth, gums, and mouth in general. These are especially convenient to use when one is outside one's own home. However, they do not clean the irregular surfaces of the teeth and spaces between the teeth as well as bristles do.

OBJECTS AND ADVANTAGES

[0008] Accordingly, some objects and advantages provided by this invention are:

[0009] 1. A sanitary, unused, easily disposable toothbrush for each use

[0010] 2. A self-contained, compact toothbrush that can easily be packaged, transported, and used anywhere

[0011] 3. A toothbrush that fits over the finger for easy and effective cleaning of all mouth surfaces. The sensitivity of the fingertip allows for a more thorough cleaning of all mouth surfaces than a handle-held device

[0012] 4. A toothbrush with soft bristles for massaging gums

[0013] 5. A toothbrush with a pre-dispensed amount of toothpaste, anti-plaque agent, or mouthwash for easy and effective cleaning

DRAWING FIGURES

[0014] FIG. 1 shows a side (top or bottom) view of the invention.

[0015] FIG. 2 shows the front (from the point of view of a right-handed person) of the invention with optional holder.

REFERENCE NUMERALS IN DRAWINGS

[0016] 1 Tube with one closed end

[0017] 2 Bristles

[0018] 3 Optional holder

SUMMARY

[0019] This invention is a tube with one closed end designed to fit over the human index finger. It has dense, short bristles covering about half its surface.

DESCRIPTION—FIGS. 1 to 2

[0020] This invention is illustrated by FIG. 1 (side view) and FIG. 2 (front view). It consists of a tube or sleeve 1 made of a thin, flexible piece of latex or similar material. Its design is similar to that of a prophylactic condom or of a “rubber finger” used by clerical workers to separate sheets of paper. It is 3 inches or less in length and made to fit over the human index finger. It has short, bristles 2 covering about half its surface as densely as possible. These bristles are about ¼ inch in length and are firm enough to provide good scrubbing action while soft enough for comfortable gum massage. They could be molded from the same material as the tube or made of another material and attached. Optionally, a holder 3, consisting of a flexible loop 1-3 inches in length is molded or attached at the open end of the tube.

OPERATION—FIGS. 1 TO 2

[0021] In a typical embodiment, the invention would be produced in three sizes: child for young children (children under 3 should not use due to swallowing hazard), youth for older children and small adults, and adult for average and larger adults. It would be individually packaged in a foil or plastic wrapper. The user would open the package and place the tube 1 over the index finger with bristles 2 on the underside of the finger so that they would be toward the user when the palm of the hand is brought to the face. If made of a material thin enough to be rolled, the tube would be packaged in a rolled-up fashion with color-coding indicating the bristle location. If made of a thicker material, not flexible enough to always give a tight fit, a holder 3 would be looped around adjacent finger(s) or thumb for better control. The user would then gently scrub the teeth, gums, and tongue with the bristles pre-saturated in toothpaste, anti-plaque agent, or mouthwash. Excess liquid would then be spit into a toilet or sink and the used tube and packaging disposed of Most likely, the toothpaste option would be used in the locations where subsequent mouth rinsing would be convenient. Anti-plaque and mouthwash options would be more convenient outside of the home as subsequent rinsing would not be necessary.

CONCLUSION, RAMIFICATIONS, AND SCOPE

[0022] Accordingly, the reader will see that this invention can be used to improve the oral hygiene of those of us who eat many meals outside the home. It can also be used to improve health and oral hygiene inside the home by providing a sanitary and unused tooth-cleaning device each time it is used.