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Publication numberUS3211143 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication date12 Oct 1965
Filing date30 Apr 1962
Priority date30 Apr 1962
Publication numberUS 3211143 A, US 3211143A, US-A-3211143, US3211143 A, US3211143A
InventorsGrossberg Marc E
Original AssigneeGrossberg Marc E
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Mouth protector
US 3211143 A
Abstract  available in
Images(2)
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

1955 M. E. GROSSBERG 3,2 3

MOUTH PROTECTOR Filed April 30, 1962 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 Marc f. G/vJJbe/"g INVENTOR.

ATTORNEY Oct. 12, 1965 oss R 3,211,143

MOUTH PROTECTOR Filed April 50, 1962 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 I NVEN TOR.

BY wgl ATTORNEY More 5. G/OJJe/g United States Patent 3,211,143 MOUTH PROTECTOR Marc E. Grossberg, 5701 Jackson St, Houston, Tex. Filed Apr. 30, 1%2, Ser. No. 196,998 4 Claims. (Ci. 128-136) This invention relates to a dental appliance and more particularly to a teeth or mouth protector.

Dental appliances of the general form sometimes referred to as mouth protectors, teeth protectors or mouth guards, are now in wide use particularly by athletes engaged in contact sports to protect the teeth, jaws and oral areas from various types of jarring and impactive blows received on the jaw and mouth regions of the face during engagement in such sports.

Commonly used types of such mouth protectors usually comprise a two-part structure. One part is a generally U-shaped base or cover shaped to conform to the dental arch and provided with a correspondingly shaped channel to receive either the upper or lower set of teeth of the user. The base is generally constructed of a flexible, resilient, rubber or rubber-like composition. The second part of the structure comprises an impression-taking body which is suitably secured in the channel and is composed of a suitable elastomeric or plastic composition adapted to receive and retain a faithful impression of the users teeth, so as to closely fit about the teeth and, together with the flexible base member, to provide the desired cushioning and protective enclosure for the teeth.

In one form of conventional mouth protectors, the impression-taking filler material will be initially secured in place in the channel of the base member and will comprise a body of a thermo-plastic material which when heated to a suitable temperature will soften suificiently to take the teeth impression when placed in the mouth and pressed about the teeth, or when pressed about a previously prepared model of the teeth. Upon cooling to normal temperature, the filler material will harden sufficiently to retain a permanent impression of the teeth of the person to whom it has been fitted so that it can be used repeatedly by the same person.

In one form of this type of mouth protector, the filler material is selected to be relatively harder than the base material, although both parts are relatively resilient. While this form of mouth protector has proven quite successful, it has the disadvantage that by using a preinstalled filled material in the base channel, an excess of the impression-taking material is necessarily provided which when molded about the teeth during fitting, results in a number of extrusions of the excess which require trimming and represent a wastage of the excess material.

The other more common form of protector which employs a two-part structure is one in which the filler material is not initially mounted in the receiving channel but is a separately packaged composition which generally comprises a quantity of uncured elastomeric material in powder form and a liquid catalyst which when added to the powder forms a plastic mass which must then be inserted in the channel of the base and then, while the filler is in the uncured state, must be molded about the teeth and thereafter allowed to cure or set to retain the impression.

It will be obvious that this latter form of protector involves a necessarily slow, rather messy series of opera-.

tions for compounding the impression-taking material, installing the uncured mass in the base, fitting it about the teeth in its uncured state, and then allowing the material to cure or set. Moreover, the filler material will usually be in substantial excess over fitting requirements and in this case, also, trimming and wastage of materials is involved.

Accordingly, it is a primary object of the present invention to provide a tooth protector which avoids the principal disadvantages, as above enumerated, of more conventional types of tooth protectors.

A principal object is the provision of a. tooth protector which is essentially a one-part structure in that the walls of the U-shaped base member are constructed of an elastomeric composition of a thermo-plastic type, which when warmed to a sutable softening temperature can be molded directly about the teeth, thereby eliminating the need for a separate impression-taking material.

A further object is the provision of a modified structure in which the side walls of the base member are constructed of the impression-taking material while the bottom or occlusal wall is constructed of different flexible, resilient material which is preferably somewhat harder or tougher than the side-wall material and which may be non-thermo-plastic.

Still another object is the provision of modifications in which the bottom wall is provided with a laminate, such as a fabric or wire gauze or the like to reinforce the same against being bitten through by the user.

Other and more specific objects and advantages of this invention will become more readily apparent from the following detailed description when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawing which illustrates several useful embodiments in accordance with this invention.

In the drawing, FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the protector;

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 2-2 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 33 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a view similar to FIG. 3, illustrating the shape of the protector following molding about a tooth;

FIG. 5 is a plan view of the mouth protector bearing the impression of the teeth after completion;

FIG. 6 is a side view, partly in section, illustrating the protector installed about the upper teeth of a user; and

FIGS. 7, 8 and 8 are cross-sectional views generally similar to FIG. 3, illustrative of modifications of the embodiment of FIGS. 1 to 6.

Referring to the drawing, the protector comprises a generally U-shaped body, designated generally by the numeral 10, constructed of a flexible resilient material of a character to be subsequently described. The flexibility of body 10 is such as to permit the body to be shaped to fit the dental arch of a prospective user, the original shape of the body being such that it may be adapted to variously shaped dental arches. Body 10 is generally channel-shaped in cross-section, the channel 11 being defined by an outer wall 12, an inner wall 13, and a bottom wall 14. Channel'll is adapted to receive the teeth (FIG. 6), which may be the upper or lower set of teeth of the user, and outer wall 12 is made higher to conform to the configuration of the juncture of the gum with the cheek and lip tissues.

Body 10 is constructed throughout of a single thermoplastic elastomeric composition of a suitable character such that when the structure is heated to a. suitable temperature, the walls thereof are softened sufficiently that they may be directly molded about the inner and outer surfaces of the teeth and adjacent portions of the gum to provide a closely interfitting protective cover about all of the tooth surfaces, and which, upon cooling to normal temperatures, will be hardened sufficiently to retain a permanent accurate impression of the entire set of teeth, so that the device may be inserted and used epeatedly as may be required, while affording full protection to the teeth of the user. In order to provide a sufiicient amount of material to fill the interstices between the teeth and about the teeth and gums, walls 12 and 13 will initially be made substantially thicker, as illustrated at 12a and 13a. The thickened sections of the walls may extend throughout the length of the walls or only portions of the walls may be thickened in those areas where somewhat greater quantities of filler material are more commonly required to fill crevices While providing a substantially uniform thickness of protective material about the entire set of teeth.

FIG. 4 illustrates the resultant shape when the rearward portion of the protector has been molded about a tooth. In this instance, it is shown molded about a molar M, the gum line G being indicated by a broken line. It will be noted that the material in the side walls 12 and 13 and bottom wall 14 has flowed about the tooth so as to conform perfectly to the shape thereof, including the cusp C of the particular tooth shown.

As noted, when the protector has been molded about the full set of teeth, a finished structure, as shown in FIG. 5, will result in which the side walls 12 and 13 have been molded to fit closely about opposite sides of the teeth and the cusps, filling all of the irregularities defined by the row of teeth, with the result that the protector will cling closely to the teeth when in use and will stay in place despite severe impacts.

The elastomeric material employed for constructing body may comprise numerous plastic or resinous materials which are well-known in the art These include polyvinyl chloride, polyvinyl acetate, ethylene vinyl acetate, polyvinyl butyral, vinyl alkyd, polyvinyl formal, vinylidene chloride, polyvinyl acetal, vinyl stearate (and oleate esters), polyvinyl alcohol, vinyl paraffins, such as Elvax, polyethylene and polypropylene, as well as others, including mixtures and co-polymers of these various types of plastics.

One elastomeric material which has been found particularly useful, is vinyl butyral, which may, of course, be plasticized, extended, colored and molded in any well known manner and with known materials to attain the desired softening temperature and other desired thermoplastic properties as well as the desired degree of softness or hardness, resiliency, tackiness and the like.

The essential characteristic required of all such materials for constructing the protector in accordance with this invention is that it be thermo-plastic, such that it may be softened to a molding temperature in the range from 120 F. to 160 F. and upon cooling from these molding temperatures to normal atmospheric or internal mouth temperatures, permanently retain the tooth impression.

In use the protector, constructed as described, will be heated in any suitable and well-known manner, as by an infra-red lamp, or by immersing in hot water to the desired softening temperature. The protector may then be inserted into the mouth of the person being fitted and placed about the teeth to be protected. It is then simply pressed gently about the teeth by the person being fitted, or by a technician, until the walls of the protector have been snugly molded about the teeth. Where the softening temperature may be relatively high, the mouth tissues may be pre-cooled by first rinsing them thoroughly with ice-water before the heated protector is inserted and placed about the teeth. The chilled surfaces of the teeth and mouth protect them against possible burns and will aid in quickly reducing the temperature of the protector material at which the teeth impression becomes permanently retained by the walls of the protector. By thus molding the walls of the protector about the teeth, the resultant finished device will tend to cling tightly about the teeth so that it will not be dislodged easily when in use. In may, of course, be removed readily and re-inserted as needed.

By providing the thickened areas in the inner and outer walls of the base a sufficient amount of material will be provided to assure filling of all crevices or irregularities in the tooth surfaces. At the same time, a minimum amount of excess material will result and it will be understood that any material which appears as excess extrusions in the final protector can be readily trimmed off with scissors or the like, in completing the finished protector.

It will be understood that the protector may be molded about a model previously prepared of the teeth of the person for whom the protector will be fitted. Ordinarily, however, the fitting will be done directly upon the teeth of the user and the simple form of protector as herein described requires no specialized knowledge or experience for fitting it.

It will be seen from the foregoing that a protector constructed as described comprises an exceptionally simple type of structure requiring a minimum amount of material for effective tooth and mouth protection, and a minimum amount of difliculty in fitting the device.

In some cases it may be desirable to re-enforce the bottom or occlusal wall 14 of the protector to make this wall less subject to being bitten through by the user, either during fitting or when in use. To meet this circumstances, FIG. 7 illustrates a modification of the previously described embodiment in which a re-enforcing element 17 is inserted or laminated in the material forming bottom wall 14 during the manufacture of the latter. Re-enforcing element 17 may be a strip of plastic or fabric gauze, or even a very fine pliable metal gauze or screen.

FIG. 8 illustrates still another modification in which the outer and inner side walls 12' and 13', respectively, are constructed of a thermo-plastic material like that employed for the construction of the embodiments illustrated in FIGS. 1 to 7, while bottom wall 14 may be constructed of a harder or tougher material than that employed in the side walls, the material from which bottom wall 14 is constructed may be a relatively hard plastic, or a rubber or rubber-like silicone composition. In many instances bottom wall 14' does not require the impression-taking characteristics of the side walls, since the material comprising the latter may be made in sulficient volume so that as the side walls are molded about the teeth, a quantity of the material will be available to flow between the cusps of the teeth and bottom wall 14 and thereby provide the desired impression-taking material for this portion of the teeth. As indicated, side walls 12' and 13 may be constructed of any of the various thermo-plastic elastomeric materials previously mentioned.

FIG. 9 illustrates a modification of the embodiment of FIG. 8, differing therefrom in employing a re-enforcing' laminate element 17', which may be of the same character as re-enforcing element 17, previously described,

and which, as shown, is inserted in bottom wall 14 and extends upwardly therefrom into each of the side walls 12' and 13. By extending the re-enforcing element 17' into the side walls, this element may serve not only as a re-enforcement for the bottom and side walls, but also as a connector for assuring that side walls 12' and 13' will be securely attached to bottom wall 14'.

It will be understood, of course, that where structures of the type shown in FIGS. 8 and 9 are constructed, the side walls may be secured to the bottom wall by any suitable industrial adhesive which will provide the necessary bond between the side walls and the bottom wall.

Tooth protectors in accordance with this invention and particularly a modification of the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 8, are particularly applicable for use by persons ai'llicted by the dental condition known as Bruxism, that is, the involuntary grinding or gnashing of the teeth, particularly during sleep. This condition may cause severe damage to the teeth as well as psychological disturbances in the person so afflicted. A conventional tooth protector, even if fitted to the person and which can be worn while asleep, while helpful, is found not to be sufficiently protective if the device is a soft or rubber material. I have found that by making occlusal wall 14' of a quite hard plastic or resinous material which will provide a hard biting surface between the teeth, great relief Will be provided sufferers of Bruxism. The hard material will more desirably extend only over the portion of the bottom wall which will be disposed between the upper and lower molars, and may comprise a thin flat section of hard material molded to the outer surface of wall 14 in the molar area.

It will be evident that numerous modifications and alterations may be made in the details of the illustrative embodiments within the scope of the appended claims but Without departing from the spirit of this invention.

What I claim and desire to secure by Letters Patent is:

1. A protective mouthpiece, comprising, a pre-formed generally U-shaped base member of flexible, resilient material conformable to the dental arch of the user and having a bottom and spaced-apart side walls extending outwardly from the bottom to define a tooth-receiving channel, said side walls being constructed of a thermoplastic composition adapted to receive and retain a dental impression, and said bottom being constructed of an elastomeric material which is different from and relatively harder than said composition.

2. A protective mouthpiece, comprising, a pre-formed generally U-shaped base member of flexible resilient material conformable to the dental arch of the user and having a bottom and spaced-apart side walls extending outwardly from the bottom to define a tooth-receiving channel and constituting the entire mouthpiece, said side walls being constructed of a thermoplastic composition adapted to receive and retain a dental impression and which is relatively softer than said bottom, and a re-enforcing element laminated into said bottom and extending into said walls.

3. A protective mouthpiece comprising a preformed generally U-shaped one-piece base member of flexible, resilient, thermoplastic material conformable to the dental arch of the user and having integral bottom and spacedapart side walls extending outwardly from the bottom to define a tooth-receiving channel, the thermoplastic material of said bottom and side walls being conformable, when heated, to the shape of the teeth of a user thereby to receive and retain a dental impression, and a flexible re-inforcing element embedded in said bottom.

4. A protective mouthpiece comprising a preformed generally U-shaped one-piece base member of flexible, resilient thermoplastic material conformable to the dental arch of a user, said base member comprising a central incisal portion and rearwardly extending arm portions, each of said portions having integral bottom and spacedapart side walls extending outwardly from the bottom to define a tooth-receiving chanel, the thermoplastic material of said side walls being conformable, when heated, to the shape of the teeth of a user thereby to receive and retain a dental impression, and a plate-like layer formed of a dissimilar relatively rigid material covering the exterior surface of said bottom along the arm portions.

References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS 165,584 7/75 Hopfen 128-136 1,302,004 4/19 Brown 128-136 2,706,478 4/55 Porter 128-136 2,750,941 6/56 Cathcart 12 8-136 2,843,555 7/58 Berridge 128-136 XR 2,919,693 1/60 Ross 128-136 2,966,908 1/61 Cathcart et a1. 128-136 3,016,052 1/6-2 Zubren 128-136 3,073,300 1/63 Berghash 128-136 3,089,487 5/63 Enicks et a1. 128-136 FOREIGN PATENTS 480,423 8/29 Germany.

688,021 8/30 France.

RICHARD A. GAUDET, Primary Examiner.

RICHARD J. HOFFMAN, JORDAN FRANKLIN,

Examiners.

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Referenced by
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Classifications
U.S. Classification128/862
International ClassificationA63B71/08
Cooperative ClassificationA63B71/085
European ClassificationA63B71/08M