Title:
Children's combination toothbrush and oral hygiene product dispenser
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A toothbrush and oral hygiene dispenser being adapted for use by a child. The dispenser provides an easily actuatable activator that, when operated, discharges a predetermined amount of an oral hygiene product from an orifice. The toothbrush may be adapted to automatically lift the toothbrush head off of a support surface. The toothbrush base and a handle on the dispenser may have similar aesthetics so as to provide improved communication to the child.



Inventors:
Papa, Alyce Johnson (Wyoming, OH, US)
Burrowes, Lee (Woking, GB)
Colman, Ame Benjamin (Newark, GB)
Stone, Jamie Trafford (Glossop, GB)
Application Number:
11/128569
Publication Date:
11/16/2006
Filing Date:
05/13/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A46B11/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
LE, HUYEN D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THE PROCTER & GAMBLE COMPANY (CINCINNATI, OH, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. An oral hygiene product dispenser comprising: a housing for storing an oral hygiene product; a base for vertically supporting said housing; an orifice through which the oral hygiene product is dispensed, said orifice being substantially fixed in location; and an activator for selectively advancing the oral hygiene product from said housing to ultimately through said orifice.

2. The dispenser of claim 1 wherein said orifice is integral with said base.

3. The dispenser of claim 1 wherein said orifice is integral with said housing.

4. The dispenser of claim 1, in which the activator has normal and actuated positions, and in which an actuation force required to move the activator between the normal and actuated positions is less than about 50 Newtons.

5. The dispenser of claim 1, in which the activator has normal and actuated positions, and in which an actuation force required to move the activator between the normal and actuated positions is less than about 25 Newtons.

6. The dispenser of claim 1, in which the activator has normal and actuated positions, and in which an actuation force required to move the activator between the normal and actuated positions is less than about 15 Newtons.

7. The dispenser of claim 1, in which the activator applies a manual force to discharge the oral hygiene product.

8. The combination of claim 1, in which the activator initiates an electrically operated dispensing mechanism that applies a force to discharge the oral hygiene product.

9. An oral hygiene product dispenser comprising: a housing for storing an oral hygiene product; a base for vertically supporting said housing; an orifice through which the oral hygiene product is dispensed; and an activator for selectively advancing the oral hygiene product from said housing to ultimately through said orifice, wherein said activator includes a lever, said lever having a distal end and a proximal end.

10. The dispenser of claim 9 further comprising a handle being attached to said proximal end of said lever.

11. The dispenser of claim 9 further comprising a disposable pouch for the containment of the oral hygiene product.

12. The dispenser of claim 9 wherein said housing includes a moveable lid to provide access to the inside of said housing.

13. The dispenser of claim 9 wherein the orifice is substantially fixed in location.

14. The dispenser of claim 9, in which the activator has normal and actuated positions, and in which an actuation force required to move the activator between the normal and actuated positions is less than about 50 Newtons.

15. The dispenser of claim 9, in which the activator has normal and actuated positions, and in which an actuation force required to move the activator between the normal and actuated positions is less than about 25 Newtons.

16. The dispenser of claim 9, in which the activator has normal and actuated positions, and in which an actuation force required to move the activator between the normal and actuated positions is less than about 15 Newtons.

17. A toothbrush and an oral hygiene product dispenser combination comprising: an oral hygiene product dispenser comprising: a housing for storing an oral hygiene product; a base for vertically supporting said housing; an orifice through which the oral hygiene product is dispensed; an activator for selectively advancing the oral hygiene product from said housing to ultimately through said orifice, wherein said activator includes a lever and a handle, said lever having a distal end and a proximal end, said handle being attached to said proximal end of said lever; a toothbrush comprising: a handle having a proximal end and a distal end; a brush head associated with said distal end defining a toothpaste receiving surface; and an enlarged base being coupled to said proximal end; wherein said handle of said dispenser and said enlarged base of said toothbrush look substantially the same so as to provide improved communication to a child.

18. The dispenser of claim 17, in which the activator has normal and actuated positions, and in which an actuation force required to move the activator between the normal and actuated positions is less than about 50 Newtons.

19. The dispenser of claim 17, in which the activator has normal and actuated positions, and in which an actuation force required to move the activator between the normal and actuated positions is less than about 25 Newtons.

20. The dispenser of claim 17, in which the activator has normal and actuated positions, and in which an actuation force required to move the activator between the normal and actuated positions is less than about 15 Newtons.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Ser. No. 11/118,958, filed Apr. 29, 2005.

FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE

The present disclosure generally relates to a toothbrush and an oral hygiene product dispenser which are adapted for children.

BACKGROUND OF THE DISCLOSURE

The teaching and motivation of toddlers and young children is a subject of much attention in patent and general literature. In particular, numerous writings, devices, techniques, aides, and kits have been proposed to assist children, parents (or other caregivers), or both, with learning and performing oral hygiene tasks. A common challenge for a caregiver is to teach the child to perform a complete oral hygiene task, particularly where the task requires several steps. At the outset, a caregiver will often provide at least some assistance and instruction on how to complete the task. The ultimate goal, however, is for the child to be able to execute the oral hygiene task unassisted. The age at which a child will practice an oral hygiene task on his or her own is dependent upon many factors, some of which are psychological, some physiological, and some unique to each individual child.

Conventional oral hygiene products and methods are overly difficult for a child to use or perform. When performing tooth brushing, for example, current products typically require a child to simultaneously manipulate two separate items at some point in the process. When loading a brush with toothpaste, for example, the child must hold the toothbrush in one hand while dispensing toothpaste from a container with the other hand. Unfortunately, many children are unable to properly or efficiently perform this task, since they are at a stage of physiological development where muscle control and general coordination are limited. Consequently, oral hygiene apparatus and methods are needed that facilitate successful use by children.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An oral hygiene product dispenser having a housing, base, orifice and activator. The housing may store an oral hygiene product. The base may provide vertical supporting for the housing. The oral hygiene product is dispensed through the orifice. The activator may selectively advance the oral hygiene product from the housing to ultimately through the orifice. The orifice may be integral with the base. The orifice may be integral with the housing. The activator may have normal and actuated positions. The actuation force required to move the activator between the normal and actuated positions may be less than about 50 Newtons, more preferably less than about 25 Newtons and most preferably less than about 15 Newtons. The activator may apply a manual force to discharge the oral hygiene product. The activator may initiate an electrically operated dispensing mechanism that applies a force to discharge the oral hygiene product.

An oral hygiene product dispenser having a housing, base, orifice and activator. The housing may store an oral hygiene product. The base may provide vertical supporting for the housing. The oral hygiene product may be dispensed through the orifice. The activator may selectively advance the oral hygiene product from the housing to ultimately through the orifice. The activator may include a lever having a distal end and a proximal end. The activator may also include a handle which is attached to the proximal end of the lever. The dispenser may also include a disposable pouch for the containment of the oral hygiene product. The dispenser may also include a moveable lid to provide access to the inside of the housing. The orifice may be substantially fixed in location. The activator may have normal and actuated positions. An actuation force required to move the activator between the normal and actuated positions may be less than about 50 Newtons, more preferably less than about 25 Newtons and most preferably less than about 15 Newtons.

A toothbrush and an oral hygiene product dispenser combination. The oral hygiene product dispenser having a housing, base, orifice and activator. The housing may be used for storing an oral hygiene product. The base may provide vertical supporting of the housing. The oral hygiene product is dispensed thought the orifice. The activator may selectively advance the oral hygiene product from the housing to ultimately through the orifice. The activator may include a lever and a handle. The lever may have a distal end and a proximal end. The handle being attached to the proximal end of the lever. The toothbrush may include a handle, brush head and base. The handle having a proximal end and a distal end. The brush head being associated with the distal end thus defining a toothpaste receiving surface. The enlarged base being coupled to the proximal end. The handle of the dispenser and the enlarged base of the toothbrush may appear substantially the same so as to provide improved communication to a child. The activator may have normal and actuated positions. An actuation force required to move the activator between the normal and actuated positions may be less than about 50 Newtons, more preferably less than about 25 Newtons and most preferably less than about 15 Newtons.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

While the specification concludes with claims particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the subject matter that is regarded as the present invention, it is believed that the invention will be more fully understood from the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. None of the drawings are necessarily to scale.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a toothbrush adapted for use by children;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a toothbrush and toothpaste dispenser adapted for use by children;

FIG. 3 is a side elevation view, in cross-section, of the toothpaste dispenser of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4a is a front elevation view of the dispenser of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4b is a front elevation view of an exemplary housing being separated from the dispenser in 4a;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of another toothbrush and toothpaste dispenser adapted for use by children;

FIG. 6 is a front elevation view of a housing being placed onto a base to form the dispenser from FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a side elevation view, in cross-section, of the toothpaste dispenser of FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 is a front elevation view of another toothpaste dispenser adapted for use by children;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the dispenser from FIG. 8;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the dispenser from FIG. 8 being opened for insertion of a toothpaste pouch;

FIG. 11 is a left side elevation view of the dispenser from FIG. 8;

FIG. 12 is a side elevation view, in cross-section, of the toothpaste dispenser of FIG. 8; and

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of another toothpaste dispenser having audio components.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Combinations of a toothbrush and an oral hygiene product dispenser, as well as methods for using such combinations, are disclosed that are particularly adapted for use by a child. Specifically, the combinations and methods allow a child to apply toothpaste to a toothbrush using a single hand.

As used herein, the term “comprising” means that the various components, ingredients, or steps, can be conjointly employed in practicing the present invention. Accordingly, the term “comprising” is open-ended and encompasses the more restrictive terms “consisting essentially of” and “consisting of.” Other terms may be defined as they are discussed in greater detail herein.

As used herein a “caregiver” means a person other than the child, such as, a parent, babysitter, family member, teacher, day care worker, or other person who is able to provide sufficient assistance to the child to complete a personal hygiene task. For purpose of style and simplicity, the term “parent” will be used in this specification to refer generally to any caregiver and the use of this term is in no way intended to limit the scope of the aides described and claimed.

As used herein, a “dispensing mechanism” includes any known manner of extracting toothpaste from a toothpaste container. Such dispensing mechanisms may be manually or electrically operated. Known pump type dispensing mechanisms include those disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,345,731 to Bitton; U.S. Pat. No. 6,834,780 to Levy; U.S. Pat. No. 5,305,922 to Varon; U.S. Pat. No. 6,715,521 to Back, each of which is incorporated by reference herein. Known squeeze-type dispensing mechanisms include those disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,845,813 to Werner; U.S. Pat. No. 6,789,703 to Pierre-Louis; U.S. Pat. No. 6,474,509 to Prince et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 6,454,133 to Lopez et al; U.S. Pat. No. 5,810,205 to Kohen; and U.S. Pat. No. 5,897,030 to Stangle, each of which is incorporated herein by reference. Known types of electrically operated dispensing mechanisms include those disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,050,773 to Choi and U.S. Pat. No. 4,403,714, both of which are incorporated by reference herein.

As used herein, “toothpaste”, “dentifrice” and “oral hygiene products” may be used interchangeably to refer to products providing oral hygiene benefits. Such products may take many different forms including, but not limited to, paste, gel, powder and liquid.

FIG. 1 illustrates a toothbrush 20 adapted for use by a child. The toothbrush 20 includes a handle 22 having a proximal end 24 and a distal end 26. An enlarged base 28 is coupled to the proximal end 24. Tooth cleaning structure, such as bristles 30, are coupled to the distal end 26 to form a brush head 32. The brush head 32 defines a toothpaste receiving surface 33, which in the illustrated embodiment is oriented at an angle with respect to the proximal end of the handle 22.

In the illustrated embodiment, the handle 22 is contoured so that it may be comfortably gripped by a child. Accordingly, the handle 22 includes an enlarged section 34 and an angled portion 36 leading to the brush head 32. In addition, the handle 22 and base 28 may carry graphics, icons, or other images to attract a child's attention. In the illustrated embodiment, the base 28 includes an image of a frog's hand 38.

The base 28 may be shaped and/or eccentrically weighted to maintain the toothbrush 20 in an angular orientation illustrated in FIG. 2. In the illustrated embodiment, the base 28 is formed substantially as a sphere. The sphere, by using internal voids, weights, or other means for introducing non-uniform mass, has a center of gravity CG that is spaced from a geometric center C of the sphere. In the illustrated embodiment, the center of gravity CG is spaced farther away from the handle proximal end 24 than the geometric center C. The sphere further has a mass sufficiently greater than the handle 22 and brush head 32, so that the eccentrically located center of gravity CG forces the toothbrush to rotate about an exterior of the sphere to an equilibrium state, in which the handle 22 extends from the base 28 at an angle with respect to a plane defined by a support surface 40 on which the toothbrush 20 rests. In this position, the brush head 32 is held above the support surface 40. The center of gravity CG is preferably located such that the toothbrush receiving surface 33 is automatically oriented generally towards the orifice 56. The center of gravity CG may further be located, and or the outer surface of the enlarged base 28 may be appropriately shaped, such that the toothbrush 22 has a second equilibrium position, like the substantially vertical orientation illustrated in FIG. 1.

FIGS. 2 and 3 illustrate a toothpaste dispenser 50 adapted for use by a child. The dispenser 50 includes a housing 52 and a discharge orifice 56 extending therethrough. An activator 53 is positioned at a top of the housing 52 and is supported for reciprocating vertical motion between normal and actuated positions. A user may engage a top of the activator and apply a downward actuation force. The housing 52 preferably includes a slip resistant base 51 to prevent movement of the dispenser along the support surface 40 during use. Further, said base may be significantly wider than housing 52 so as to provide additional stability.

In the embodiment illustrated at FIG. 3, product 99 may be provided within the dispenser housing 52. Alternatively, said product may be pre-packaged in a cartridge (not shown) which is placed in said housing. The cartridge may be similar to the cartridge construction disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,158,383, which issued to Glover et al. on Oct. 27, 1992, the entirety of which is incorporated by reference herein. Referring again to FIG. 3, downward actuation of activator 53 causes a pressure-build-up in dosing-cylinder 54 such that a first valve 54a is caused to close and a second valve 54b is caused to open; consequently, product 99 is dispensed through spout 61 and orifice 56. Upon the reciprocating upward motion of activator 53 caused by springs 58, a vacuum is created in dosing-cylinder 54 such that first valve 54a is caused to open and second valve 54b is caused to close; consequently, product 99 is pulled from housing 52 into said dosing-cylinder 54 for re-supplying purposes. In addition, upon the removal of product 99 from housing 52, follower 57 moves downward so as to wipe substantially clean the interior walls of housing 52. FIGS. 4a and 4b show dispenser 50 being constructed of a housing 52 which is a separate piece from base 51. Said housing may or may not be refillable and/or disposable. Alternatively, said housing and base may be integrally constructed (not shown).

Dispenser 50 as designed may provide the benefit of having a static (i.e., substantially stationary) orifice 56 which aids in the child's alignment of brush 20 therewith. Additionally, dispenser 50 may be designed having orifice 56 located in its lower half so as to provide a more reachable orifice-location to a child. Additionally, dispenser 50 may be designed such that follower 57 moves downward (unlike traditional dispensers) as product 99 is discharged. Said downward movement of follower 57 results in a lower center of gravity, thus providing improved upright stability.

Dispenser 50 may be designed so that the actuation force required to operate the activator 53 is within a child's physical capabilities. Accordingly, the actuation force is less than about 50 Newtons, more preferably less than about 25 Newtons, and most preferably less than about 15 Newtons.

When used together, the toothbrush 20 and dispenser 50 provide a combination particularly suited for use by children. As illustrated in FIG. 2, dispenser orifice 56 may be accompanied with a brush-receiving-area 55 which is adapted to receive and/or align the brush head 32 of said toothbrush 20.

The passive positioning of the brush head 32 allows the child to focus on operating one oral hygiene article at a time, thereby simplifying the process of loading a toothbrush with toothpaste. The child may grasp the toothbrush 20 and position it on the support surface 40 in close proximity to the dispenser 50. The child may then release the toothbrush 20, so that the head 32 is raised above the support surface 40. If necessary, minor adjustments to the position of the toothbrush 20 may be made to make sure the head 32 is vertically aligned with the orifice 56. The activator 53 may then be operated to dispense toothpaste onto the head 32.

While a specific type of dispenser has been disclosed, it will be appreciated that various other types of dispensers may be used without departing from the scope of this disclosure. In general, the force that advances toothpaste to the orifice 56 may be supplied manually, electrically, pneumatically, or otherwise. Furthermore, if the toothpaste is provided in a flexible container, the dispenser may squeeze, roll, or otherwise compress the container to force the toothpaste from the container, or alternatively create a vacuum outside the container in order to force the toothpaste from the container. The dispenser may be freestanding or mounted on a surface such as a wall. The following are specific alternative embodiments of the dispenser.

FIGS. 5, 6 and 7 illustrate another exemplary embodiment of the present invention wherein dispenser 150 has a substantially round housing 152 containing an oral hygiene product 199. Said housing may be shaped in other known geometrical shapes. Housing 152 may be placed onto base 151 for subsequent dispensing. Housing 152 may be disposable or durable (e.g., refillable).

Referring again to FIG. 7, downward actuation of housing 152 causes a pressure-build-up in dosing-cylinder 154 such that a first valve 154a is caused to close and a second valve 154b is caused to open; consequently, product 199 is dispensed through spout 161 and orifice 156. Upon the reciprocating upward motion of housing 152 caused by springs 158, a vacuum is created in dosing-cylinder 154 such that first valve 154a is caused to open and second valve 154b is caused to close; consequently, product 199 is pulled from housing 152 into said dosing-cylinder 154 for re-supplying purposes.

FIGS. 8-12 illustrate yet another exemplary embodiment of the present invention wherein dispenser 250 has a lever 259 and optional handle 253 to actuate dispensing of product (not shown). Said product may be pre-packaged in a disposable pouch 298 which is insertable into housing 252. A moveable lid 260 may be provided so as to allow internal access to dispenser 250 and replenishment of a new pouch.

Referring now to FIG. 12, upon actuation (e.g., downward pull) of handle 253, the attached proximal end 259a of lever 259 similarly moves downward. Because lever 259 is pivotable about rotational point 259b, the distal end 259c of lever 259 is moved upward into dosing-cylinder 254; consequently, a pressure-build-up is created in dosing-cylinder 254 such that a first valve 254a is caused to close and a second valve 254b is caused to open. Said action results in product 299 being dispensed through spout 261 and orifice 256. Upon the reciprocating upward motion of housing 252 caused by springs 158, a vacuum is created in dosing-cylinder 254 such that first valve 254a is caused to open and second valve 254b is caused to close; consequently, product 299 is pulled from pouch 298 into said dosing-cylinder 254 for re-supplying purposes. In the construction of the fluid communication within dispenser 250, a variety of connections may be used including, but not limited to, connection hoses 261, 262 and connector 263. Lastly, handle 253 and toothbrush base 28 (see FIG. 1) may be shaped similarly so as to communicate to the child that both objects are to be handled.

While the foregoing examples illustrate manual compression mechanisms, it will be appreciated that dispensers having automatic or electrical compression mechanisms may be used without departing from the scope of this disclosure. Such electrical compression mechanisms may be similar to the prior art disclosures noted above.

The toothbrushes and dispensers disclosed herein may include images such as character graphics to encourage and motivate a child to brush his or her teeth. The character graphic may provide a source of entertainment and reassurance for the child and a buddy, or friend, who reduces stress and can be related to in a non-competitive fashion during the tooth brush learning period. The character may also provide positive reinforcement and encouragement to the child while the child is learning new skills and behaviors to clean themselves in a non-competitive or threatening manner.

Suitable character graphics can include animals, people, inanimate objects, natural phenomena, cartoon characters or the like, that may or may not be provided with human features such as arms, legs, facial features or the like. It may be desirable for the character graphic to be familiar to the child, such as an identifiable cartoon character. The character graphics should at least be a type that the child can relate to, examples of which could include animals, toys, licensed characters, or the like. Character graphics can be made more personable and friendly to the child by including human-like features, human-like expressions, apparel, abilities, or the like. In one optional embodiment it is desirable for a character to have a distinguishing feature or features, which in a pictograph can help in training, such as a frogs webbed hand. By way of illustration, an animal character graphic can be shown smiling, wearing clothing, playing sports, fishing, driving, playing with toys, or the like. In particular embodiments, the character graphic can desirably be created to project an appearance that could be described as friendly, positive, non-intimidating, silly, independent, inspirational, active, expressive, dauntless and/or persevering.

In one optional embodiment the indicia may optionally include a character graphic which is associated with a line of children's consumer products, especially personal cleansing products and the like. The character may be one of a family, group, team, or the like, each member of which is designed to be associated with, for example, a consumer product, a personal hygiene activity such as brushing teeth, an age group, stage of infant development and the like. Alternatively, all of the characters of a family, group, team, or the like, may be designed to be associated with the entire range of consumer products.

The association by the child of the character with the consumer product, hygiene activity etc., encourages and provides a way for the child to visualize through their imagination the character using the consumer product in the way intended. Furthermore, since this teaching is through the use of the child's imagination, there are none of the negative connotations associated with conventional parental instruction on how to use a consumer product. Instead of the child being subjected to parental nagging to do something the child really doesn't want to do, the child will actively use the consumer product as part of active learning play to interact with their new buddy, or friend, and imitate behavior. The interaction between the child and the character is only limited by the bounds of the child's imagination. The role of the caregiver or parent in then becomes one of actively encouraging imaginative play by the child with the character to use the consumer product correctly, instead of a being perceived by the child as a parent who stops play. Play is actively encouraged and new skills become part of play; “uninterrupted play”. Since the use of the product is essentially play, the child is eager to use the article of commerce and learn the skill.

A family or group of character graphics can be used to progress a child through a system of consumer products, especially personal cleansing products and the like. In this embodiment each character of the family or group, would be tailored to appeal to different groups of children. These groups may be based on age, development stages, regions, etc. Alternatively, a single character may be tailored for one particular group consumer products of line of consumer products which are different for children at different ages, development stages, etc. In this case the character may, for example, be of a different age depending on the consumer product and by which group of children the product is intended to be used.

The dispensers and toothbrushes illustrated herein include images depicting a frog character image. For example, the toothbrush 20 and dispenser 50 include frog hand images. While the graphics disclosed herein are related to a frog character graphic, it will be appreciated that other images may be provided, such as different animal character graphics, human character graphics, literary or popular character graphics, designs, or shapes, without departing from the scope of this disclosure.

Alternatively, or in addition to, the appearance, the toothbrush and dispenser may interact in more than one way with the child's senses. For example, actuation of the dispenser may cause initiation of a signal that, for example, causes the appearance of dispenser to change (e.g., a change in color or actuation of a light) or causes origination of a sound. In one alternative embodiment, once initiated, the signal may be maintained for a predetermined time so as to provide reinforcement of a desired behavior. For example, the predetermined time may be the time required for the child to thoroughly brush his or her teeth.

Optionally, an audio assembly for generating a sound feature during or in response to certain operations, such as actuation of the activator or placement of the toothbrush near the orifice may be used. For example, as schematically illustrated in FIG. 13, the dispenser base 64 may include a speaker 170 connected to an audio circuit 172. A sensor 174 may be adapted to detect movement of the activator 56 and forward a signal to initiate the audio circuit 172, thereby causing speaker to generate the sound feature. For example, the activator 56 may be movable between extended and retracted positions, and the sensor 174 may be adapted to detect when the activator is in a proximate position, which may generally correspond to the retracted position, and forward a signal to the audio circuit 172 to deliver sound. The audio assembly may be contained entirely within the dispenser to generate a sound feature whenever a certain activity is performed. Alternatively, the elements of the audio assembly may be provided in separate components that must be matched for the sound feature to be generated. For example, the dispenser housing 52 may carry the speaker 170 and sensor 174 while the toothpaste pouch (not shown) provides the audio circuit 172 responsive to the sensor 174.

The audio feature may be particularly suited to a child and preferably promotes enthusiasm for using the toothbrush and/or dispenser. For example, the audio feature may provide a positive reinforcement upon successfully operating the dispenser, such as verbal or tonal encouragement. Additionally or alternatively, the audio feature may be a simulated animal sound or cartoon character voice. The audio feature may correspond to a visual feature provided on the toothbrush or dispenser. In the current embodiment, where the toothbrush and dispenser include frog character graphics, the audio feature may be a simulated “ribbit” or other noise typically associated with a frog. The audio feature need not match the frog character graphic, but may instead be provided as a simulated human voice, a series of notes, or other composition. Furthermore, the audio circuit may generate more than one type of sound which may be generated sequentially or randomly upon successful actuations of the activator or other activity, as desired.

Furthermore, RFID chips can be embedded into the toothbrush body to trigger said audio/visual signal when the brush is placed within close proximity to the delivery system. Said audio/visual signal could also last for a set time period to encourage the child to brush his/her teeth for a specified time (e.g., 2 minutes).

All documents cited in the Detailed Description are, in relevant part, incorporated herein by reference; the citation of any document is not to be construed as an admission that it is prior art with respect to the present disclosure.

While particular embodiments of the present disclosure have been illustrated and described, it would be obvious to those skilled in the art that various other changes and modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. It is therefore intended to cover in the appended claims all such changes and modifications that are within the scope of this disclosure.