BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Technical Field
This invention relates generally to toothbrushes. More particularly, the invention relates to electric toothbrushes. Specifically, the invention relates to an electric toothbrush having two heads and a mechanism for oscillating the two heads.
2. Background Information
Manual and electric toothbrushes are well known in the art. Twin-headed brushes are also known which allow for the simultaneous cleaning of the lingual and buccal surfaces of the tooth. As disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,381,794 to Porper et al., some of these twin-headed brushes are configured to rotatably oscillate about the longitudinal axis of the toothbrush. Said patent, which provides greater detail with regard to the prior art, is incorporated herein by reference. The present invention provides new mechanisms for oscillating such a twin-headed brush about the longitudinal axis.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention provides a toothbrush head assembly for use with an electric toothbrush power handle, the assembly comprising a housing having a longitudinal direction; an oscillating member which is disposed in the housing and which oscillates reciprocally in the longitudinal direction; and a brush which is mounted on the housing and which oscillates rotatably about a longitudinally extending axis.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing the top of the first embodiment of the toothbrush of the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a perspective view showing the bottom of the first embodiment.
FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of the first embodiment.
FIG. 4 is a top plan view of the first embodiment with the housing removed.
FIG. 5 is a sectional view taken on line 5-5 of FIG. 1.
FIG. 6 is similar to FIG. 4 with the inner sleeve, mounting arms and cap removed.
FIG. 7 is a sectional view taken on line 7-7 of FIG. 5.
FIG. 8 is a sectional view taken on line 8-8 of FIG. 7.
FIG. 9 is a sectional view taken on line 9-9 of FIG. 7.
FIG. 10 is a perspective view showing the top of a second embodiment of the toothbrush of the present invention.
FIG. 11 is an exploded perspective view of the second embodiment.
FIG. 12 is a top plan view of the second embodiment with the housing removed.
FIG. 13 is a sectional view taken on line 13-13 of FIG. 10.
FIG. 14 is similar to FIG. 12 without the inner sleeve, brushes and cap.
FIG. 15 is a sectional view taken on line 15-15 of FIG. 12 and shows the toothbrush in a neutral or centered position.
FIG. 16 is similar to FIG. 15 and shows the rotation of the brush heads about the longitudinal axis in one direction.
FIG. 17 is similar to FIG. 16 and shows the rotation of the brush heads in the opposite direction of that shown in FIG. 16.
FIG. 18 is a perspective view showing the top of a third embodiment of the toothbrush of the present invention.
FIG. 19 is an exploded perspective view of the third embodiment.
FIG. 20 is a top plan view of the third embodiment with the housing removed.
FIG. 21 is a sectional view taken on line 21-21 of FIG. 18.
FIG. 22 is similar to FIG. 20 without the inner sleeve and brushes.
FIG. 23 is a sectional view taken on line 23-23 of FIG. 20.
FIG. 24 is a sectional view taken on line 24-24 of FIG. 21.
FIG. 25 is a sectional view taken on line 25-25 of FIG. 21 and shows the brush heads rotating about the longitudinal axis in a first direction.
FIG. 26 is similar to FIG. 25 and shows the brush heads rotating about the longitudinal axis in a direction opposite that shown in FIG. 25.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
A first embodiment of the brush head assembly of the present invention is shown generally at 100 in FIGS. 1-3; a second embodiment of the brush head assembly of the present invention generally at 200 in FIGS. 10-11; and a third embodiment is shown generally at 300 in FIGS. 18-19. Each of assemblies 100, 200 and 300 is part of an electric toothbrush which is removably connected to an electrically powered power handle which provides reciprocating oscillating motion along a longitudinal axis of the power handle for driving an oscillating mechanism of the brush head assembly. This reciprocating oscillating motion along the longitudinal axis is translated by the respective assembly to provide oscillating movement of the twin brush heads thereof about a longitudinal axis of the assembly.
Referring to FIGS. 1-3, assembly 100 has a rear end 102 and a front end 104 which define therebetween the longitudinal direction of the assembly. Assembly 100 also has first and second sides 106 and 108 defining therebetween a lateral direction of the assembly. Assembly 100 has a top 110 and a bottom 112 defining therebetween a vertical direction. Rear end 102 is configured to connect to an electric toothbrush power handle (not shown).
Assembly 100 includes a housing 114 which includes an outer sleeve 116 having a substantially circular cross section, a neck 118 connected thereto and flaring outwardly into an oval-shaped cross section and a cover 120 connected to neck 118. Housing 114 further includes a cap 122 which is connected to cover 120 and a lower portion of neck 118.
Referring to FIGS. 3-6, assembly 100 further includes a linear oscillator 124 and a rotational oscillator 126 which is rotatably mounted on oscillator 124. Linear oscillator 124 includes a power-handle engaging portion 128 that includes a post 130 for removably engaging the power handle of the electric toothbrush. A rod 132 is rigidly mounted on and extends forward from portion 128. An actuator 134 is rigidly mounted on rod 132. Actuator 134 includes first and second arms 136 and 138 which extend laterally outwardly in opposite directions from one another and from their connection to rod 132. First arm 136 includes a first lateral projection 140 and second arm 138 includes a second lateral projection 142 which projects laterally opposite from projection 140. A first forward projection 144 extends forward from first lateral projection 140 and a second forward projection 146 extends forward from second lateral projection 142. A third lateral projection 148 extends laterally outwardly from first forward projection 144 and away from second arm 138 and is positioned forward of first lateral projection 140.
Referring to FIGS. 3-5, rotational oscillator 126 includes an inner sleeve 150, first and second mounting arms 152 and 154 which extend radially outwardly from sleeve 150 laterally opposite one another, and a brush comprising first and second brush heads 156 and 158 rigidly mounted respectively on arms 152 and 154. First brush head 156 includes a first pad 160 and a first set 162 of flexible bristles which angle downwardly and laterally inwardly therefrom. Second brush head 158 includes a second pad 164 and a second set 166 of flexible bristles which extend downwardly and laterally inwardly therefrom. Pads 160 and 164 are substantially perpendicular to one another so that first set 162 of bristles extends substantially perpendicular to second set 166 of bristles. The free ends of the bristles of first set 162 and second set 166 define therebetween a tooth-receiving space 168 (FIG. 7) for receiving the teeth during the brushing thereof. As shown in FIG. 5, inner sleeve 150 defines a longitudinally extending bore 170 which slidably receives rod 132 therein. More particularly, linear oscillator 124 is linearly slidable in an oscillating manner back and forth as indicated at arrow A in FIG. 5 along a longitudinally extending axis X. Inner sleeve 150 is rotatably disposed within interior chamber 117 of housing 114 so that rotational oscillator 126 rotates about axis X as shown by arrow B in FIG. 4 in response to the linear oscillation of oscillator 124.
More particularly and with reference to FIGS. 6-9, first and second triangular cams 172 and 174 are mounted respectively atop first and second pads 160 and 164. As shown in FIG. 9, first cam 172 has a camming surface 176 which tapers or angles radially inwardly relative to axis X in a longitudinal direction from the rear end of cam 172 to the front end of cam 172. As shown in FIG. 8, second cam 174 has a second camming surface 178 which tapers or angles radially inwardly relative to axis X in the longitudinal direction from a front end of cam 174 to a rear end of cam 174. Thus, camming surfaces 176 and 178 angle generally in opposite directions to one another.
Thus, referring to FIG. 8, when linear oscillator 124 moves longitudinally forward as indicated at arrow C, second forward projection 146 slidably engages second camming surface 178 to force second brush head 158 away from cover 120 as indicated at arrow D and first brush head 156 toward cover 120 as indicated at arrow E. Stated otherwise, the forward motion of linear oscillator 124 causes rotational oscillator 126 to rotate about axis X in a first direction. Referring to FIG. 9, the movement of linear oscillator 124 in the rearward direction as indicated at arrow F causes third lateral projection 148 to slidably engage first camming surface 176 to force first head 156 away from cover 120 as indicated at arrow G and section brush head 158 toward cover 120 as indicated at arrow H. Thus, the rearward movement of linear oscillator 124 causes rotational oscillator 126 to rotate about axis X in a second direction opposite that of the first direction shown in FIG. 8.
Brush head assembly 200 is now described referring to FIGS. 10-11. Assembly 200 includes a housing 214 which is very similar to housing 114 except that it includes a cover 220 which has a shape which is slightly different than that of cover 120. In addition, assembly 200 includes a linear oscillator 224 and a rotational oscillator 225 having configurations which differ from the corresponding structures of assembly 100. Assembly 200 further includes an actuator 234 having a configuration different than that of actuator 134. Referring to FIGS. 12, 14 and 15, rod 232 includes an angled segment 226 adjacent its free front end. Segment 226 has first and second opposed camming surfaces 228 and 230, each of which is angled or extends transversely in a lateral direction with respect to axis X.
Actuator 234 includes first and second arms 236 and 238, each of which have a generally T-shaped configuration. Thus, first arm 236 has a first lateral projection 240 which extends laterally outwardly with respect to axis X and second arm 238 has a second lateral projection 242 which extends laterally outwardly from axis X in the opposite direction. First arm 236 includes a first cross bar 244 connected to first projection 240 and second arm 238 includes a second cross bar 246 connected to second projection 242. Each of cross bars 244 and 246 thus provide forward and rearward projections which extend respectively forward and rearwardly of the respective projections 240 and 242. First and second posts 248 and 250 extend downwardly from arms 236 and 238 and are spaced from one another to define there between a central space which receives therein angled segment 226 of rod 232. Thus, posts 248 and 250 are respectively closely adjacent or in abutment with camming surfaces 228 and 230 of segment 226.
Referring to FIG. 12, rotational oscillator 225 includes first and second brush heads 256 and 258 which respectively include first and second pads 260 and 264 from which the respective sets of bristles extend. Front and rear guides 266 and 268 extend upwardly from first pad 260 and are longitudinally spaced from one another to define therebetween a space for receiving therein first cross bar 244. The front and rear ends of cross bar 244 are respectively closely adjacent or in abutment with guides 266 and 268. Similarly, second brush head 258 includes front and rear guides 270 and 272 which extend upwardly from second pad 264 and define there between a space for receiving therein second cross bar 246 in a like manner. The upper surface of first pad includes a first tapered camming surface 274 (FIG. 15) which is disposed between front and rear end guides 266 and 268. Likewise, the upper surface of second pad 264 includes a second tapered camming surface 276 (FIG. 15) which is disposed between front and rear guides 270 and 272. As seen in FIG. 15, cross bar 244 abuts camming surface 274 and the lower surface of housing 220. Likewise, second cross bar 246 abuts camming surface 276 and lower surface of cover 220.
In operation, the rearward movement of linear oscillator 224 during oscillation thereof, as indicated by arrows J in FIGS. 12 and 14, causes first camming surface 228 to slidably engage first post 248 and force actuator laterally in a first direction as indicated by arrow K in FIG. 16. This movement of actuator 234 causes cross bar 246 to slidably engage the lower surface of cover 220 and camming surface 276, thus forcing second brush head 258 away from cover 220 as indicated at arrow L in FIG. 16 and first brush head 256 toward cover 220 as indicated at arrow M in FIG. 16, thus producing a rotational movement of rotational oscillator 225 about axis X. Conversely, the forward stroke of linear oscillator 224 as indicated by arrow N in FIGS. 12 and 14 causes camming surface 230 of segment 226 to slidably engage second post 250 so that actuator 234 moves laterally as indicated at arrow O in FIG. 17 in a direction opposite that shown at arrow K in FIG. 16. This movement of actuator 234 causes first cross bar 244 to slidably engage camming surface 274 to force first brush head 256 away from cover 220 as indicated at arrow P in FIG. 17 and second brush head 258 toward cover 220 as indicated at arrow Q in FIG. 17. Thus, the linear oscillation of oscillator 224 is translated into the rotational movement of oscillator 225, including the rotational movement of brushes 256 and 258.
Brush head assembly 300 is now described with reference to FIGS. 18-20. Assembly 300 includes a housing 302 which is similar to the housing of the previous embodiments except that it has a cover 304 which has a slightly varied configuration. Assembly 300 further includes an actuator 310 and a pivoting member 312. A linear oscillator 306 includes a rod 314 which extends primarily longitudinally and includes an angled segment 316 which extends transversely to longitudinal axis X. Angled segment 316 includes a free end adjacent which it is pivotally connected to pivoting member 312 via a first pivot 318, which is laterally offset from axis X. More particularly, a socket 317 is connected to angled segment 316 and receives therein pivot 318 (FIGS. 22-23).
Pivoting member 312 has a body in the form of a substantially flat triangular plate. Pivot 318 extends downwardly from adjacent one corner of the triangular body. Member 312 is pivotally connected to cover 304 via a second pivot 320 which extends upwardly from the body of member 312 to cover 304. Second pivot 320 is laterally offset from axis X opposite first pivot 318 and is disposed adjacent a second corner of the triangular plate of member 312. A third pivot 322 extends downwardly from the body of pivoting member 312 adjacent the forward corner thereof.
Actuator 310 includes a central portion 324 defining a central opening 326 which is elongated in the longitudinal direction and which lies on axis X when actuator 310 is in a neutral centered position. Opening 326 receives therein third pivot 322 to provide a pivotal and sliding connection therebetween. Opening 326 is slightly wider than pivot 322 in the lateral direction and longer than pivot 322 in the longitudinal direction to allow for sliding movement between pivoting member 312 and pivot 322. Actuator 310 includes a first arm having a first lateral projection 328 and a second arm having a second lateral projection 330 wherein projections 328 and 330 extend laterally from central portion 324. A first cross bar 332 is connected to first projection 328 and a second cross bar 334 is connected to projection 330 so that the arms are generally T-shaped.
Rotational oscillator 306 includes first and second brush heads 336 and 338. First brush head 336 includes a first pad 340 from which the respective set of bristles extends and second brush head 338 includes a second pad 342 from which the respective set of bristles extends. Front and rear guides 344 and 346 extend upwardly from first pad 340 and are longitudinally spaced to define therebetween a space in which is received first cross bar 332 of actuator 310. Likewise, front and rear guides 348 and 350 extend upwardly from second pad 342 and are longitudinally spaced to define therebetween a space for receiving therein second cross bar 334. The upper surface of first pad 340 includes a first camming surface 352 (FIGS. 25-26) disposed between front and rear guides 344 and 346. Likewise, the upper surface of second pad 342 includes a second camming surface 354 (FIGS. 25-26) disposed between front and rear guides 348 and 350.
In operation, linear oscillator 306 oscillates linearly in the longitudinal direction as indicated at arrow A in FIG. 21 to cause rotational oscillator 308 to rotatably oscillate as indicated at arrow B in FIG. 20. More particularly, the linear oscillation of oscillator 306 causes pivoting member 312 to pivot about second pivot 320 via the pivotal connection between oscillator 306 and pivoting member 312 via first pivot 318. Thus, member 312 oscillates in a pivotal manner about second pivot 320 as indicated by arrow R in FIG. 22. This pivoting motion of member 312 causes third pivot 322 to oscillate laterally back and forth to alternately slidably engage opposed portions of central portion 324 which bound opening 326 in order to drive actuator 310 laterally back and forth. The cross bars of actuator 310 then engage the camming surfaces of the pads of the brush heads to cause rotation of rotational oscillator 308. More particularly, when linear oscillator 306 is moved in a forward direction as indicated at arrow S in FIGS. 20 and 22, the pivotal motion of pivoting member 312 causes pivot 322 and actuator 310 to move laterally as indicated at arrow T in FIG. 25 so that second cross bar 334 slidably engages the inner surface of cover 304 and second camming surface 354 to force second brush head 338 away from cover 304 as indicated at arrow U and first brush head 336 toward cover 304 at indicated at arrow V. On the backstroke of the oscillation of linear oscillator 306 as indicated at arrow W in FIGS. 20 and 22, pivoting member 312 pivots the other way so that third pivot 322 and actuator 310 move laterally in the opposite direction as indicated at arrow Y in FIG. 26. This lateral movement of actuator 310 causes first cross bar 332 to slidably engage the inner surface of cover 304 and first camming surface 352 to force first brush head 336 away from cover 304 as indicated at arrow Z and second brush head 338 toward cover 304 as indicated at arrow AA in FIG. 26.
Thus, each of brush head assemblies 100, 200 and 300 provides a simple and effective mechanism for translating longitudinal reciprocal oscillating movement of a linear actuator into rotational oscillating movement of twin brush heads in order to achieve an effective brushing motion for cleaning teeth.
In the foregoing description, certain terms have been used for brevity, clearness, and understanding. No unnecessary limitations are to be implied therefrom beyond the requirement of the prior art because such terms are used for descriptive purposes and are intended to be broadly construed.
Moreover, the description and illustration of the invention is an example and the invention is not limited to the exact details shown or described.