INTERDENTAL CLEANING AND POLISHING
RELATED APPLICATION 5
This application is a continuation-in-part of a U.S. patent application, Ser. No. 558,826, filed Dec. 7, 1983 and now U.S. Pat. No. 4,586,521 issued May 6, 1986.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION 10
This invention relates to dental hygiene devices and specifically to powered devices for interdental cleaning.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Cleaning the surfaces between adjacent teeth gener- 15 ally is a special problem. Such areas are not accessible to a tooth brush, yet they must be cleaned regularly. The consequence of not removing deposits there, especially on tooth surfaces within the gingival sulci, will very likely lead to diseases affecting teeth and periodon- 20 tal tissues. The latter accounts for the large percentage of people who lose their natural teeth.
A cause of periodontal disease is initiated by bacteria acting on food particles deposited on tooth surfaces inside the gingival sulci. The deposits become plaque 25 which later harden as a result of calcium deposition. As additional debris accumulate, a sequence of biological, physical, and biochemical events occur which eventually lead to destruction of previously healthy tissues.
A cleaning method supplementary to brushing is 30 therefore necessary. Fairly good results have come from the use of dental floss held and manipulated with the hands. Floss tensioned within various types frames which are manipulated with the hands can also produce positive results. However, these techniques require skill 35 with considerable perseverance and are in the main, arduous and burdensome tasks.
Efforts to reduce the interdental cleaning burden have produced some powered devices that are patented. A common problem with such devices, how- 40 ever, is that a segment of floss which becomes soiled during the cleaning process is returned to the target tissues with the return stroke of a reciprocating cycle. This is especially undesirable for people with gingivitis or periodontal disease since the soiled floss can pass 45 repeatedly over or across inflamed or disease injured tissues. The cleaning action of most of the powered prior art devices reciprocates the floss in a transverse saw-like motion which is undesirable across soft tissues.
DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION 50
The present invention moves a span of dental floss in a rapid up and down cleaning motion while continuously replacing the span (the word floss in this document is intended to include in its meaning, any of a 55 variety of flexible dental cleaning fibers, tapes, and the like). Specifically, the floss reciprocates vertically in low amplitude oscillations on the tooth surface while constantly changing the floss cleaning surface by simultaneously moving in a transverse direction. The contin- 60 ual horizontal feeding and replacement of floss with a clean dry surface, in concert with the rapid vertical oscillations, loosens the adhering material and carries off the freed particles on and between the floss fibers. This combination of actions is especially important on 65 dental surfaces within the gingival sulci to dislodge deposits and remove the debris. Since the transverse motion of the floss is relatively slow, the only rapid
motion is substantially perpendicular to the gingival surfaces. Thus, there is no rapid saw-like motion across soft tissues.
Having a safer and efficient cleaning motion, the tool has the added potential for use as an interdental polisher. In that function, a floss impregnated with a fine abrasive or other polishing material could be used. Hence, the dental hygienist or home user would have a means for interdental polishing heretofore unavailable.
Stationary shield tines are provided which individually enclose moving inner tines that hold the floss span. Thus, the moving tines are shielded to prevent contact with the oral tissues of the user.
Still another safety feature is an adjustable means to allow the floss to slacken if a predetermined amount of force is applied to the cleaning area.
Also included is a means to automatically lock the floss immovably taut when the tool in not running so that the floss can be forced through tight spaces between adjacent teeth.
The tool is loaded with a covered floss supply spool which inhibits floss contamination. Used floss is levelwound on a take-up spool.
The oral portion of the instrument is designed so that the shield tines, as well as the movable inner tines, can be cleaned by simply rinsing under hot running tap water without having to remove parts.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The accompanying drawings, in combination with the description herewith, illustrate features and advantages of the invention. Like reference characters in different views refer to the same parts. The drawings are intended to illustrate principles of the invention and are not necessarily to scale and in which drawings:
FIG. 1, in a top plan, illustrates the invention with a cover of the gearbox removed and a handgrip cover removed;
FIG. 2 is a side elevation view of the invention with parts removed which are: the outer half of a shield tine, the take-up spool and its retainer cap, the rail and its support cup, a side cover of the gearbox, and the dispensing spool retainer cap;
FIG. 3 is a partial bottom view of the invention showing openings and grooves that guide the dental floss;
FIG. 4 is an expanded perspective view of the link arm and pawl used in the invention;
FIG. 5 is an expanded end elevation view of the inner fork used in the invention.
DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
The interdental cleaning device 1 described herein and shown in the figures includes two symmetrical forks 80,81; one within the other. In FIG. 1 and 2, each tine 22 of the inner fork 80 is flanked inwardly and outwardly by each half of an outer shield tine 21 in a spaced sandwich arrangement. The inner fork 80 is disposed to reciprocate within the stationary shield fork 81 and though they are in close proximity, they do not contact each other. Extensions of the device housing 83 form the shield tines 21 which are slightly larger than the inner tines 22.
The purpose of the shield fork 81 is to shield the reciprocating inner fork 80 and prevent the latter from contacting the oral tissues of the user. Slots 20 in both halves of each shield tine 21, as shown in FIG. 2, facilitate threading the eyelets 19 of the inner tines 22. This