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Title:
TRAY FOR DENTAL INSTRUMENTS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/197494
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The invention provides a tray (1) for washing, disinfecting, and providing dental instruments. The tray comprises a retaining plate (10; 210; 310) and a cover plate (20; 120; 220; 320). The retaining plate is adapted for retaining the dental instruments, and comprises retaining apertures for receiving instrument retaining grommets, wherein the retaining apertures are arranged in an array. The cover plate covers the retaining plate in an assembled state of the tray. It includes access apertures (21; 121; 221; 321) and information for identifying the dental instruments, wherein in the assembled state each of the access apertures is aligned with a retaining aperture and at least one of the access apertures is smaller than the corresponding retaining apertures.

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Inventors:
KAUP, Thomas (Breitenstrasse 15, 8910 Affoltern am Albis, 8910, CH)
BERNHARD, Nicolai (Schaffhauserstrasse 52, 8400 Winterthur, 8400, CH)
GUTTERY, Luke (Mattackerstrasse 6, 8052 Zurich, 8052, CH)
TSCHOPP, Raquel (Siebenmatten 11, 5032 Aarau Rohr, 5032, CH)
BRUDERER, Christian (Scheideggstrasse 8, 8400 Winterthur, 8400, CH)
STRASSER, Medea (Oberdorfstrasse 43, 8478 Thalheim an der Thur, CH)
Application Number:
EP2019/059151
Publication Date:
October 17, 2019
Filing Date:
April 10, 2019
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
NOBEL BIOCARE SERVICES AG (Balz Zimmermann-Strasse 7, 8302 Kloten, CH-8302, CH)
International Classes:
A61C3/04; A61B50/33; A61C19/00; A61C19/02; A61L2/26
Domestic Patent References:
WO2014089420A12014-06-12
WO2014089420A12014-06-12
Foreign References:
EP2698123A12014-02-19
CN202761474U2013-03-06
EP2698123A12014-02-19
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JENSEN, Olaf (Balz Zimmermann-Strasse 7, 8302 Kloten, CH-8302, CH)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. Tray (1, 201, 301) for washing, disinfecting, sterilizing, and providing dental instruments, the tray comprising:

a retaining plate (10; 210; 310) for retaining the dental instruments, the retaining plate comprising retaining apertures (11; 311) for receiving instrument retaining grommets (60; 260; 360), wherein the retaining apertures are arranged as an array; a cover plate (20; 120; 220; 320), covering the retaining plate in an assembled state of the tray, the cover plate including access apertures (21; 121; 221; 321) and a graphical side (22; 122; 222; 322) with information for identifying the dental instruments, wherein in the assembled state each of the access apertures is aligned with a retaining aperture and at least one of the access apertures is smaller than the corresponding retaining apertures; and

guiding means (30; 230; 330), wherein the guiding means extends beyond the graphical side of the cover plate of the assembled tray and define an assembly direction between the retaining plate and the cover plate.

2. Tray (1, 201, 301) according to claim 1,

wherein at least 25 % and more preferably at least 50 % of all access apertures are smaller than the corresponding retaining apertures.

3. Tray (1, 201, 301) according to claim 1 or 2,

wherein the surface of all retaining apertures (11; 311) is 50%, preferably 65%, and more preferably 75% of a front side (12) of the retaining plate (10; 210; 310) .

4. Tray (1, 201, 301) according to any one of the preceding claims ,

wherein the array of retaining apertures (11; 311) comprises rows and columns and the rows are arranged perpendicularly to the columns, the rows or columns further preferably being arranged substantially parallel to an outer edge (13) of the retaining plate (10; 210; 310) .

5. Tray (1, 201, 301) according to claim 4,

wherein at least some of the retaining apertures (11; 311) have the same size and can be connected by lines diagonally to the rows and columns of the array of retaining apertures, each diagonal line passing through the center of each retaining aperture along this diagonal line, wherein the distance between adjacent retaining apertures of the same size along this diagonal line is smaller than the diameter of the retaining apertures.

6. Tray (1, 201, 301) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the retaining apertures (11; 311) form a substantially uniform pattern.

7. Tray (1, 201, 301) according to any one of the preceding claims ,

wherein in the assembled state of the tray, the cover plate (20, 120) is located at a distance to the retaining plate (10;

210; 310) .

8. Tray (1, 201, 301) according to claim 7,

further comprising grommets (60; 260; 360), the grommets protruding from the front side (12) of the retaining plate (10; 210; 310) and acting as spacers to create the distance between the retaining plate and the cover plate (20; 120; 220; 320), wherein the cover plate is preferably supported on top of the grommets .

9. Tray (1, 201, 301) according to any one of the preceding claims ,

wherein the guiding means (30; 230; 330) has a cross-section preventing rotation, in particular a rectangular guiding rod.

10. Tray (1, 201, 301) according to claim 9,

wherein the cover plate (20; 120; 220; 320) comprises an engagement means (26), preferably an engagement sleeve, that engages the guiding means (30; 230; 330) and keeps the cover plate at a constant, preferably oblique, angle relative to the guiding means and preferably protrudes beyond the surface facing the retaining plate (10; 210; 310) .

11. Tray (1, 201, 301) according to claim 9 or 10,

further comprising a lid (40) with a handle (41), the handle being movable between an engaged position and a released position, wherein

in the engaged position, the handle engages the guiding means (30; 230; 330) so that the tray can be carried by the handle, and

in the released position, the handle is released from the guiding means so that the lid can be removed,

wherein the lid preferably further comprises at least one bracket (42) retaining the handle (41) while allowing the handle to move between the engaged and released position.

12. Tray (1, 201, 301) according to claim 11,

wherein the lid further comprises a recess (45) for receiving the handle (41) in the engaged position.

13. Tray (1, 201, 301) according to any one of claims 9 to 12, further comprising a bottom plate (50), wherein the guiding means (30; 230; 330) is fixed to the bottom plate, and wherein the retaining plate (10; 210; 310) and/or the cover plate (20; 120; 220; 320) can be engaged with and moved along the guiding means .

14. Tray (1, 201, 301) according to any one of the preceding claims ,

wherein the size and/or shape of the access apertures (21; 121; 221; 321) varies.

15. Tray (1, 201, 301) according to any one of the preceding claims ,

wherein the cover plate (20; 120; 220; 320) covers at least one of the retaining apertures (11; 311) .

Description:
TRAY FOR DENTAL INSTRUMENTS

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to a tray for washing, disinfecting, sterilizing dental instruments and components and providing dental instruments and components during treatment.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In dentistry, trays are used to provide instruments to a dentist for performing treatments such as inserting a dental implant, installing a dental prosthesis etc. These trays are also used for cleaning, disinfecting and sterilizing these instruments prior and/or after such a treatment.

For example, EP 2 698 123 A1 discloses a tray system comprising a tray with a base having holding arrangements for holding implant components, instruments and/or instrument holders, at least a first and a second information sheet which both are adapted to be independently removably arranged on said base of said tray. Each information sheet has its own distribution of holes which are placed in register with the holding arrangements of the base when the information sheet is arranged on the base, so that an implant component, instrument or instrument holder can be arranged into one of said holding arrangements through a respective one of said holes.

There are various requirements that are applicable to these trays. One of these requirements is a compact size with a small footprint. In dental offices, a small size of such a tray is particularly advantageous in terms of the size of equipment needed for washing, disinfecting and sterilizing the tray and its contents. The same applies to room for storing these trays.

Further, a tray containing dental instruments should be protected after disinfection or sterilization. This is generally achieved by placing the tray within a pouch or sterile container that hermetically seals the tray from its environment. The smaller the pouch or sterile container, the smaller the surface that is exposed to the environment and may accidentally result in contamination, for example due to defects of the pouch or sterile container. In other words, a smaller tray also increases the reliability of a pouch or sterile container protecting the tray after disinfection or sterilization.

However, there are concurrent requirements that have a tendency to increase the size of these dental trays. One of these requirements is to ensure a proper and efficient cleaning, disinfecting and sterilizing process. More specifically, the dental instruments should be accessible from the outside of the tray for cleaning, e.g. by directing water to these instruments to remove organic and non-organic matter left on the dental instruments after treatment. This accessibility can be enhanced by placing the dental instruments within a tray at a sufficient distance from each other.

Further, the trays should provide enough space next to the dental instruments for providing information to a dental professional for preparing and using the tray for a dental procedure. This information is advantageously located adjacent to these dental instruments for ease of reference.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Based on these observations, the main objective of the present invention was to provide a tray for dental instruments that has a compact size and at the same time provides sufficient space between the dental instruments for proper cleaning, disinfection, sterilizing and provision of information.

Another objective of the present invention was to facilitate equipping of the tray and to prevent that the tray accidentally opens while being handled. The present invention addresses these objectives by providing a tray for washing, disinfecting, sterilizing, in particular storing, and providing dental instruments. The tray comprises a retaining plate, a cover plate and preferably guiding means. The retaining plate is for retaining the dental instruments and comprises retaining apertures for receiving instrument retaining grommets, wherein the retaining apertures are arranged as an array. The cover plate covers the retaining plate in an assembled state of the tray and preferably includes a graphical side with information for identifying the dental instruments. It includes access apertures and information for identifying the dental instruments. In the assembled state, each of the access apertures is aligned with a retaining aperture and at least one of the access apertures is smaller than the corresponding retaining apertures. Preferably, the guiding means extend beyond the graphical side of the cover plate of the assembled tray and define an assembly direction between the retaining plate and the cover plate.

The combination of a retaining plate for receiving instrument retaining grommets and a cover plate that covers the retaining plate, wherein at least one access aperture is smaller than a corresponding retaining aperture has the advantage that more space can be provided for information about the dental instrument that extends through the access aperture. In other words, the surface of the cover plate, which is often called graphical layer, is greater than the surface of a cover plate known from the prior art, in which the apertures of the retaining plate and the cover plate have generally been identical in shape and size (e. g. WO 2014/089420 Al) .

The dental instruments are retained by grommets so that they are preferably oriented substantially perpendicular to the retaining plate and the cover plate. The at least one access aperture is preferably axially aligned with the corresponding retaining aperture. As a result of the difference in size, the instrument retaining grommet can be inserted into the retaining aperture but not into the access aperture. Further, the grommet preferably does not extend through or into the access.

With the dental instruments located and commonly oriented as described above, it is possible to place the cover plate past the dental instruments. In other words, the cover plate can be placed or removed after equipping the grommets of the retaining plate with the desired dental instruments. As a result, the cover plate can be washed separately in order to provide a better access to the dental instruments of the tray during cleaning and/or disinfecting. Once finished, the cover plate can be placed on or above the retaining plate by passing the dental instruments through their respective apertures and without the dental instruments getting into contact with the cover plate. The latter may otherwise damage the dental instruments during placement of the cover plate.

Grommets or other retainers may also be provided for retaining dental components such as dental implants or parts of a superstructure. These dental components are generally added to the tray after washing and/or disinfecting and preferably directly prior treatment begins.

Since the grommets are to be inserted into the retaining apertures, the shape of the retaining apertures correspond to each other and have substantially the same size. Preferably the retaining apertures have a circular shape. However, other shapes like rectangular, oval, polygonal, etc. and combinations are also possible.

Further, arranging the retaining apertures in an array having rows and columns allows the tray according to the invention to be used for a variety of treatments that at least partly use different dental instruments. In particular, the dental instruments needed for a specific treatment of a patient can be inserted into corresponding grommets in the retaining plate, whereas the remaining retaining apertures and/or grommets can remain empty. Preferably, a cover plate that is adapted to the assigned treatment is used in order to provide specific information about the dental instruments and/or treatment to the dental professional and to prevent any misunderstandings.

In a preferred embodiment, at least 25 % and more preferably at least 50 % of all access apertures are smaller than the corresponding retaining apertures.

The more access apertures are smaller than the corresponding retaining apertures, the bigger the surface available for providing information to the dental professional. This embodiment is particularly advantageous in terms of stability of a cover plate that is lying on top of and is supported by grommets placed within the retaining apertures of the retaining plate. It is also possible to have all access apertures smaller than the corresponding retaining apertures.

In another embodiment, the surface of all retaining apertures is 50%, preferably 65%, and more preferably 75% of the entire surface or foot print of a front side of the retaining plate.

The higher the ratio of the surface of the retaining apertures to the surface of the remaining plate material, the more compact the footprint of the tray can be designed. As noted above, a sufficient surface of the cover plate that may provide information to the dental professional is still provided due to the at least one access aperture being smaller than the corresponding retaining aperture it is aligned with in the assembled state of the tray.

In another embodiment, the array of retaining apertures comprises rows and columns and the rows are arranged perpendicularly to the columns, the rows or columns further preferably being arranged substantially parallel to an outer edge of the retaining plate. Providing an array of retaining apertures with such an arrangement allows to place the retaining apertures at least in one of the directions of the rows and columns close to each other, preferably so that the shortest distance between the outer circumferential edges of adjacent retaining apertures is preferably between 1% and 25% of the largest extension of the retaining apertures. If the rows and/or columns are further arranged substantially parallel to an outer edge of the retaining plate, a particular compact design and small footprint of this portion of the tray can be obtained.

In another preferred embodiment, at least some of the retaining apertures have the same size and can be connected by lines running diagonally in relation to the rows and columns of the array of retaining apertures, each diagonal line passing through the center of each retaining aperture along this diagonal line, wherein the distance between adjacent retaining apertures of the same size along this diagonal line is smaller than the diameter of the retaining apertures.

A retaining plate according to this embodiment has the apertures densely arranged since the apertures are at a distance to each other so that a parallel line to above noted diagonal center line will pass through the retaining apertures arranged along an adjacent diagonal center line. However, a minimum distance between the retaining opportunities should be provided for structural reasons of the material the retaining plate is made of and/or a distance required for the grommets to be inserted into apertures next to each other.

In yet another embodiment, the retaining apertures form a substantially uniform pattern.

A uniform pattern also results in a densely packed number of retaining apertures extending through the retaining plate. There is no discontinuity between any of the retaining apertures of a row or a column. In other words, there is not one retaining aperture missing in between a row or a column of apertures. The distance between adjacent retaining apertures of the uniform array is constant.

Preferably, the retaining apertures of the retaining plate also have the same shape and/or size. The shape and size of the retaining apertures corresponds to the shape and size of the grommets to be inserted. The grommets are preferably designed to support a variety of dental instruments having different sizes. According to the retaining apertures, preferably grommets of the same size and shape are used.

In a preferred embodiment and in the assembled state of the tray, the cover plate is located at a distance to the retaining plate .

Although a cover plate that is directly placed on the facing surface of a retaining plate receives maximum support, there are the following advantages of locating the cover plate at a distance to the retaining plate. Due to the distance, no liquids are retained between the two plates. This entrapment might be caused by capillary forces. Even if small amounts of liquid are present with the plates at a distance, they can easily evaporate. The cover plate is preferably removed during cleaning. The distance ensures that the retaining plate and the cover plate do not adhere to each other due to liquid between these two plates. This adherence would otherwise cause problems during assembly and disassembly of the two plates and might damage the dental instruments .

In another embodiment, the tray further comprises grommets. The grommets protrude from the front side of the retaining plate and act as spacers to create a predetermined distance between the retaining plate and the cover plate, wherein the cover plate is preferably supported on top of the grommets.

With the grommets acting as spacers, no additional structural elements are needed to keep the retaining plate and the cover plate at a distance. This simplifies the configuration of the tray and, thus, its assembly and disassembly.

If the cover plate is supported on the grommets acting as spacers and lies on top of the grommets, the at least one access aperture in the cover plate can be designed completely independent from the shape of the grommet except for its smaller size. In other words, there are no constrictions caused like with a grommet that at least partly extends through and/or engages an access aperture of the cover plate.

In a preferred embodiment, the tray further comprises a guiding means, preferably with a cross-section that prevents rotation about the longitudinal axis of the guiding means, in particular a rectangular guiding rod. The guiding means may also be formed as more than one guiding rod, such as 2, 3, 4, or 5 guiding rods. Preferably, the guiding rods have a profile with a solid section such as a circular, triangular or rectangular cross-section. Nonetheless, profiles with hollow sections or profiles formed of sheet material are also envisaged. The guiding means defines an assembly direction between the retaining plate and the cover plate.

The guiding means or a part of the guiding means (such as at least one of a plurality of guiding rods) may engage the circumference of the cover plate and/or the retaining plate for guiding either or both of these plates during assembly of the tray. Since the guiding means engages the circumference of the cover plate and/or the retaining plate, it provides guidance along the two directions along the plane of either of these plates. Alternatively or additionally, at least a part of the guiding means may be arranged so that it passes through at least one of the plates for providing guidance. Passing through at least one of the plates has the advantage that this may at least restrict or prevent a relative movement of the plates along their plane of extension. In this embodiment, there is no need for additional structural features besides the guiding means that engage the cover plate. More specifically, the guiding means is sufficient to ensure a proper assembly and alignment between the retaining plate and the cover plate and to prevent relative movement between the cover plate and the retaining plate along their plane of extension to prevent damaging the dental instruments during assembly and disassembly of the two plates. This is particularly advantageous for a tray with densely arranged grommets/dental instruments and/or the smaller above-noted access apertures since the guiding means is able to prevent an unintended relative movement between the retaining plate and the cover plate.

The guiding means preferably extend beyond the graphical side of the cover plate and even more preferably extend further so that the end of the guiding means facing away from the retaining plate is situated at the top side of the assembled tray. In particular, the guiding means extend beyond the dental instruments retained by the grommets in a direction perpendicular to the retaining plate and facing away from the retaining plate. As a result, contact between any dental instruments and the cover plate while the cover plate is brought into engagement with the guiding means can be prevented. Once in engagement, the cover plate can be placed over and moved along the dental instruments to a predetermined end position of the cover plate above the retaining plate.

The preferred cross-section of the guiding means perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the guiding means or direction of assembly further prevents a relative rotation between the retaining plate and the cover plate. The same effect may also be achieved by employing a guiding means formed as more than one guiding rod as described above. For example, arranging at least two guiding rods to engage the circumference and/or pass through either or both of these plates basically prevents a rotation relative to the guiding means and the plates relative to each other . Consequently, the relative position between the retaining plate and the cover plate in a plane parallel to these plates is substantially fixed. This prevents mistakes during assembly of the tray.

In another preferred embodiment, the cover plate comprises an engagement means, preferably an engagement sleeve, wherein the engagement means engages the guiding means and keeps the cover plate at a constant, preferably oblique, angle relative to the guiding means and preferably protrudes beyond the surface facing the retaining plate.

In this embodiment, an engagement means of the cover plate keeps the cover plate at an angle relative to the guiding means. During assembly, the entire cover plate can move along the direction of assembly without tilting relative to the guiding means. Preferably, the engagement means is formed as at least one through hole in the cover plate and / or a recess in the circumference of this plate. Preferably, the number of engagement means corresponds to the number of elements forming the guiding means. For example, if the guiding means of a tray comprises 2, 3, 4 or 5 guiding rods, the tray also comprises 2, 3, 4 or 5 holes and/or recesses as engagement means, respectively. This through hole preferably has a shape distinct from any one of the access apertures in order to prevent a mix up during assembly.

Keeping a constant angle in relation to the guiding means is preferably achieved by the engagement means protruding beyond the surface facing the retaining plate. As a result, the guiding means generally extends along the direction of assembly. This constant angle may be achieved with an engagement sleeve that is comprised in the cover plate. Such a sleeve can ensure a constant angle independent of the point a force is applied to the cover plate .

In yet another embodiment, the tray further comprises a lid with a handle, the handle being movable between an engaged position and a released position. In the engaged position, the handle engages the guiding means so that the tray can be carried by the handle. In the released position, the handle is released from the guiding means so that the lid can be removed. Preferably, the lid further comprises at least one bracket retaining the handle while allowing the handle to move between the engaged and released position.

The tray comprising a lid has the advantage that the contents of the tray such as a dental instrument, a cage for tools or a dental component do not get lost during washing or handling the tray. Further, a lid protects the contents of the tray from outside forces.

The handle of the lid further facilitates the handling of the tray. Since the handle can be used to carry the tray while being engaged with the guiding means and allows the lid to be removed while being disengaged, this handle simplifies the structure of the tray. Further, if the handle stays connected to the lid by providing at least one bracket, moving between the engaged position and the release position is facilitated and the handle stays with the lid.

In yet another preferred embodiment, the lid further comprises a recess for receiving the handle in the engaged position.

When the recess of the lid receives the handle, the handle does not add to the outer dimensions of the tray. In particular with a preferred rectangular outer shape of the tray, multiple trays can be easily stacked on top of each other with great stability .

In order to move the handle into this recess of the lid, the handle can preferably be rotated in relation to the guiding means .

The engagement of the handle with the guiding means is preferably achieved by the guiding means having an engagement recess that is located outwards in relation to the lid in an assembled state of the tray. The handle is moved so that a part of the handle engages the engagement recess for the engaged position and moves out of the engagement recess for the released position .

The recess in the lid particularly has dimensions so that the handle can only be placed in the recess once it is engaged with the guiding means. This prevents the lid being accidentally opened, for example while handling the tray.

In a preferred embodiment, the tray further comprises a bottom plate, wherein the guiding means is fixed to the bottom plate, and wherein the retaining plate and/or the cover plate can be engaged with and placed along the guiding means.

Such a bottom plate provides a stable support for the entire content of the tray while being placed on a surface or being handled. If a bottom plate is present, the retaining plate preferably comprises a guiding means so that it can be easily placed on and removed from the bottom plate. Further, the bottom plate allows an easy addition of other structural features such as a tool cage for other dental tools or components.

In another embodiment, wherein the size and/or shape of the access apertures varies.

Thus, the size and/or shape of the access apertures can be adapted to the dental instruments extending therethrough and the surface needed to provide information for the respective dental instrument .

In yet another preferred embodiment, the cover plate covers at least one of the retaining apertures.

Covering retaining apertures with the cover plate that do not retain a dental instrument is advantageous in terms of hygiene and further provides additional space on the front side of the cover plate to add information for a dental professional using the tray.

In yet another embodiment, the back side of the cover sheet, which faces the front side of the retaining sheet, comprises an array of recesses for engaging a portion of the grommets that protrudes from the retaining sheet towards the cover sheet.

Here the final position of the cover plate above the retaining plate in its direction of extension is at least provided by an engagement between the grommets inserted into the retaining plate and the cover plate.

SHORT DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The following figures illustrate preferred embodiments of the present invention. These embodiments are not to be construed as limiting but merely to enhance the understanding of the invention together with the following description. In these figures, same reference signs refer to features throughout the drawings that have the same or an equivalent function and/or structure. This particularly applies to reference signs that are identical except for the first digit, wherein the first digit denotes different embodiments. It is to be noted that at least a repetitive detailed description of these components is omitted.

Figure 1 illustrates an assembled tray for washing, disinfecting, and providing dental instruments according to a preferred embodiment;

Figure 2 is a cross-sectional view of the tray for dental instruments of figure 1 along the line A-A;

Figure 3 is an exploded view of a step assembling the cover plate of the tray of figure 1;

Figure 4 illustrates the assembled tray with a handle of the lid in the released position; Figure 5 is a partial view of a tray of another embodiment that particularly illustrates a grommet with an inserted dental instrument, the grommet being placed in a retaining plate;

Figure 6 is a partially cut three-dimensional view of a cover plate according to another embodiment;

Figure 7 is three-dimensional view of another embodiment of a tray with guiding means that is arranged at four corners of a cover plate;

Figure 8 is a three-dimensional exploded view of an assembly step of the cover plate for another embodiment of a tray.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Figure 1 shows an exemplary embodiment of a tray 1 for retaining dental instruments 70 (cf . figure 5) . Tray 1 has a substantially rectangular outer shape. This outer shape facilitates the storage of multiple trays since they can simply be stacked on top of each other. In this respect, the arrangement of handle 41 in a recess 42 of the lid 40 as described in more detail further below is particularly advantageous since it does not obstruct the stapling of the trays 1.

The exemplary embodiment of the tray 1 shown in figure 1 comprises a bottom plate 50 and a lid 40 that define the outer dimensions and shape of the tray 1. The lid 40 and the bottom plate 50 are perforated. This perforation is provided so that during cleaning, water can reach the dental instruments 70 stored within the tray 1. Consequently, the perforation makes the lid 40 and the bottom plate 50 accessible for cleaning its contents from outside the tray 1.

For this reason, it is preferred that the holes 43 forming the perforation have a rectangular shape so that the bars 44 in between the perforating holes can be designed relatively thin compared to bars of holes having, for example, a circular shape. Preferably and as shown in the figures, perforations are also applied to other components of the tray 1 such as to the tool cage 80.

As the skilled person will appreciate, the components of the tray 1 and in particular the plates are preferably made from sheets, in particular sheets of metal that can withstand the chemicals and temperatures used for washing and disinfecting the dental instruments 70.

As is particularly illustrated in figure 2, the tray 1 further comprises a lid 40, a retaining sheet 10, a cover plate 20, a guiding means 30. It may also comprise a tool cage 80 that includes a container 82 for receiving tools that are too big to be placed in the retaining plate 10. The tool cage 80 may also comprise a retainer 81 for holding dental instruments 70 and/or a lid 83.

The exploded three-dimensional view of figure 3 illustrates the assembly of a cover plate 20 on top of a retaining plate 10 assisted by a guiding means 30.

The retaining plate 10 of the illustrated embodiment comprises a uniform array of retaining apertures 11. This array of retaining apertures 11 is arranged in rows and columns that are oriented parallel to the outer edge 13 of the retaining plate 10. As already described above, such an arrangement allows for a compact size of the retaining plate 10 and, thus, a small footprint of the tray 1.

In between the rows and columns of the retaining apertures 11 are perforation holes 15 provided in order to enhance access to the dental instruments 70 during processes like washing and/or disinfecting .

The retaining plate 10 may also include foot portions 14. These foot portions 14 are bent towards the back side of the retaining plate by substantially 90° in relation to the part of the retaining plate 10 that is provided with the retaining apertures 11. These foot portions 14 serve as a support that keeps the retaining apertures 11 at a distance from the bottom plate 50.

As shown by means of the illustrated embodiment, the retaining plate 10 can preferably be removed from the tray 1. In order to facilitate assembly to and removal of the retaining plate 10, the retaining plate 10 is provided with an engagement means 16 for engagement with the guiding means 30. The engagement means 16 of the exemplary embodiment is formed as a through hole extending through the retaining plate 10 along with the retaining apertures 11. This through hole has a shape that corresponds to the cross-sectional shape of the guiding means 30. The engagement means 16 is dimensioned so that the retaining plate 10 can be moved along the guiding means 30.

The guiding means 30 is attached to the bottom plate 50 (e. g. by welding or other fastening means) . The guiding means 30 preferably extends in a direction perpendicular to the bottom plate 50. As illustrated in figure 3 and as described above, the guiding means may be formed as at least one guiding rod. Further, the guiding means 30 preferably comprises a cross-section that prevents rotation during guidance of the retaining plate 10 and or cover plate 20 along the guiding means 30. In this exemplary embodiment, the cross-section of the guiding means 30 is rectangular. Nonetheless, any shape of cross-sections is conceivable that can prevent rotation about the longitudinal axis of the guiding means 30.

During assembly of the retaining plate 10, the engagement means 16 is brought into engagement with the distal end of the guiding means 30. After engagement, the retaining plate 10 can be moved towards the bottom plate 50 until the foot portions 14 of the retaining plate 10 get into contact with the topside of the bottom plate 50, i.e. the side facing towards the retaining plate 10. Due to aforementioned profile of the guiding means 30, the retaining plate 10 cannot be rotated about the longitudinal axis of the guiding means 30. This facilitates the assembly and removal of retaining plate 10 and avoids collision with other parts of tray 1.

As shown in figure 2, the guiding means 30 preferably extends through a hole in the lid 40. In the portion of the guiding means

30 that extends outside the lid 40, the guiding means 30 is provided with an engagement recess 31. The engagement recess is located on a side defining at least part of the circumference of the engagement recess about its longitudinal axis. The engagement recess 31 preferably includes an undercut 31b on the side of the recess facing the outer side of the lid. This configuration of the undercut 31b keeps the handle 41 in an engaged state while the handle 41 is used for carrying the assembled tray 1 (cf . figure 4) . More specifically, the weight of tray 1 prevents disengagement of the handle 41 from the undercut 31b of the recess 31.

In order to enhance stackability, the handle 41 can preferably be placed in a recess 45 of the lid 40 (cf . figure 2) . It is further preferred that the handle 41 engages the engagement recess 31 of the guiding means 30 while lying flat within the recess 45. Due to the undercut 31b, the handle 41 can also be prevented from disengaging from the guiding means 30 by moving out of the engagement recess 31.

Preventing such a disengagement can be achieved by providing a part 41b of the handle 41 that engages the engagement recess

31 of the guiding means 30 with a reduced cross-section. More specifically, the cross-section of the part 41b may be reduced so that it can enter into the engagement recess 31 while the handle 41 is in an upright position relative to surface of the lid 40.

Preferably, the cross-section is at least primarily reduced on the side of the part 41b facing away while the handle 41 is in the upright position so that turning the handle 41 to the engaged position within the engagement recess 31 will cause a rotation of the reduced cross-section at a distance from the rotational axis. This rotation keeps the part 41b of the handle 41 engaged with the undercut 31b of the engagement recess 31 and, thus, prevents the handle 41 positioned in the recess 45 of the lid 40 to disengage. As a result, the lid 40 is prevented from being accidentally removed.

Alternatively, the part 41b of the handle 41 can have a symmetrically reduced cross-section. In this case, engagement and disengagement with the undercut 31b of the engagement recess 31 can be achieved by making use of the elasticity of the lid 40. More specifically, the handle 41 is pressed towards the lid 40 causing the applied force to elastically bend the lid 40 inwards so that the part 41b moves into and out of the undercut 31b and the engagement recess 31. Although the part 41b does not need to have a reduced cross-section in such an embodiment, the reduced cross-section decreases the force needed to move the handle 41 into and out of engagement with the undercut 31b and the engagement recess 31.

The lid 40 may further be provided with brackets 42. These brackets 42 secure the handle to the lid 40 and guide the movement of the handle 41 into and out of engagement with the engagement recess 31 of the guiding means 30. As shown in figures 1, 2 and 4, the brackets 42 of the exemplary embodiment have an inverted U-shape, wherein the legs of the brackets 42 are fixed to the bottom of the recess 45 of the lid 40. The lid 40 of the illustrated embodiment comprises two brackets 42 having a length extending parallel to the bottom of the lid's recess 45 that allows the part 41b of the handle 41 a range of movement to engage with and disengage from the engagement recess 31. In addition to guiding and securing the handle to the lid 40, the brackets 42 may also provide additional support to the handle while handling or carrying the tray 1.

As already mentioned above, the cover plate 20 is preferably removed during washing and/or disinfecting the dental instruments 70 for better access to the contents of the tray 1. As illustrated in figure 3, at least some of the access apertures 21 are smaller in size than the retaining apertures 11 they are aligned with. Preferably, the access apertures 21 have substantially the same shape as the underlying retaining apertures 11. Nonetheless, they may also be different in shape and/or extend over more than one retaining aperture 11 as illustrated by the access apertures 21b in figure 3.

As the skilled person will appreciate when looking at figure 3, the smaller sized access apertures 21 provide a bigger surface on the front side 22 of the cover plate 20. As a result, there is more space available for providing information to the dental professional about the dental instruments 70 that equip the tray 1. This information may further include instructions concerning the dental treatment, the tray 1 is configured for, such as the sequence, in which the dental instruments 70 and/or dental components of the tray 1 should be used. The information provided on the front side 22 of the cover plate 20 may also assist in selecting the proper dental instrument and/or dental component amongst many for adapting the treatment to a patient.

Preferably, the tray 1 is configured for the dental treatment of a patient, i.e. it contains the dental instruments 70 that are or may be needed for this treatment. The dental instruments 70 may include reusable items and consumables. Further, the tray 1 may also be equipped with the dental components for treating a patient. These dental components may also be placed in grommets 60 (cf. figure 5) placed in the retaining sheet 10 or in additional retainers (not shown) . Like the grommets 60, these additional retainers may be placed within the retaining apertures 11.

Nonetheless, the tray 1 is primarily adaptable for a specific dental treatment of a patient in order to enhance the quality of the treatment. After such a treatment is completed, the same tray 1 may be equipped for a different treatment by replacing the dental instruments 17, the dental components and/or the cover plate 20.

Like the retaining plate 10, the cover plate 20 can also be guided by the guiding means 30 during its assembly and disassembly. Since the cover plate 20 may be installed or removed while dental instruments 70 are present in the grommets 60 in the retaining apertures 11, it is advantageous to guide the cover plate 20 at a constant angle in relation to the guiding means 30. In this manner, the dental instruments 70 can be passed through the access apertures 21, 21b while the cover plate 20 is moved along the guiding means 30 towards the retaining plate 10.

This guidance of the whole cover plate 20 at a constant angle in relation to the guiding means 30, in particular perpendicular, may be provided by an engagement means 26 that extends beyond the back side of the cover plate 20 facing the front side 12 of the retaining plate 10. As shown in figures 2 and 3, this engagement means 26 may be provided as a sleeve having a through hole with a cross-section that corresponds to the cross-section of the guiding means 30.

By this engagement means 26 in the form of a sleeve, the cover plate 20 can be brought into engagement with the guiding means 30 at a constant angle and be moved along the guiding means 30 to a predetermined position in relation to the retaining plate 10. The precision of this movement prevents the dental instruments 70 from coming into contact with the material of the cover plate, which may otherwise result in damaging the dental instruments 70 with the cover plate 20.

The predetermined distance of the cover plate 22 to the retaining plate 10 may be provided by choosing the length of the engagement means 26 so that the engagement means 26 comes into contact with the bottom plate 50 once the predetermined distance is reached. Alternatively, the backside of the cover plate 20 may be in direct contact with the front side 12 of the retaining plate 10.

Nonetheless, preferably the cover plate 20 is placed at a distance to the retaining plate 10. This may be achieved by using a part of the grommets 60 as spacers. Although grommets 60 are illustrated in the embodiment of figure 5, the skilled person will appreciate that the grommets 60 or other embodiments of these grommets described below may be used in any one of the previous embodiments.

The grommets 60 are inserted into the retaining apertures 111 of the retaining plate 110. In this assembled state, a portion of the grommets 60 protrudes from the front side 112 of the retaining plate 110. Since at least one of the access apertures 21 of the cover plate 20 has a smaller size than the size of the retaining apertures 11 and the size of the portion of the grommets 60 protruding from the retaining plate 110 in the direction of the cover plate (not shown) , the cover plate rests on and preferably on top of the grommets 60. In other words, the grommets 60 preferably do not extend into the access apertures 21 of the cover plate 20. As a result, the guiding means 30 in the exemplary embodiment shown in the figures defines the rotational and translational position of the cover plate 20 in relation to the retaining plate 10, wherein the distance between these two plates is defined by the portion of the grommets 60 protruding from the front side 12 of the retaining plate 10.

The grommets 60 of figure 5 preferably have elastic elements 61 that can retain a dental instrument 70 and also adapt to the size of the dental instrument 70. The grommets 60 may also comprise a collar 62 in order to define their depth of insertion through the retaining aperture 111 of the retaining plate 110. Further, the grommets 60 may have cross-section that varies along their length, in particular between the portion above the retaining plate 110 and the portion below this portion. For example, the cross-section above the retaining plate 110, i. e. protruding in the direction of the cover plate, may be a larger or smaller in size.

Figure 6 shows another embodiment of a cover plate 120. This cover plate 120 also comprises at least one access opening 121 that is configured to have a smaller size than the corresponding aperture of a retaining plate (not shown) that is aligned with the access opening 121. Like in the previously described embodiments, the alignment is preferably an axial alignment.

The difference of the cover plate 120 in relation to the cover plate of the previous embodiments is in particular the provision of grommet receiving recesses 125 on the backside 124 of the cover plate 120. These recesses 125 are dimensioned to engage portions of the grommets 60 that protrude from the front side of a retaining plate. Consequently, the translational and rotational position of the cover plate 120 in relation to the retaining plate can be defined by the recesses 125 alternatively or in addition to the guiding means.

Figure 7 shows another embodiment of a tray 201. In this embodiment, the guiding means 230 can be attached to and extend from the retaining plate 210 in order to provide guidance when placing the cover plate 220 on top of the grommets 260 that are placed in retaining apertures (not shown) of the retaining plate 210. Nonetheless, the guiding means 230 may also be attached to a bottom plate (not shown) of the tray 201. Thus, they may also guide the retaining plate 210 during assembly of the tray 201. In this case, the retaining plate 210 comprises engagement means in form of a through hole (i. e. four through holes in the illustrated embodiment corresponding to the four guiding rods of the guiding means 230) . The guiding means 230 is configured to pass through this through hole and is dimensioned to provide guidance to the retaining plate 210 when being moved along the guiding means 230 and being placed onto the bottom plate (not shown) . In figure 7, the guiding means 230 is formed as four guiding rods that are in engagement with the substantially rectangular cover plate 220 at its four corners. In particular, the guiding means 230 is arranged at the circumference of the cover plate 220.

The engagement means 226 of the cover plate 220 are formed as recesses or cut-outs forming part of the circumference of the cover plate 220. As illustrated in the embodiment of figure 7, the engagement means 226 is preferably formed to correspond to the cross-sectional shape of the guiding means 230. The number of recesses in the circumference of the cover plate 220 corresponds to the number of guiding rods forming the guiding means 230.

As a result of this configuration, the guiding means 230 and the engagement means 226 assist in placing the cover plate 220 on top of the grommets 260 received in the retaining plate 210, in particular by providing a direction of assembly and preventing a relative rotation between the retaining plate 210 and the cover plate 220. They also prevent a relative translation in the direction of extension or along the surface of these plates.

For providing guidance, and in particular for providing guidance if the cover plate 220 is guided along dental components or tools held by and extending from grommets 260, the guiding means 230 extends beyond the cover plate 220 in the assembled state, i.e. when the cover plate 220 is at its final position in relation to the retaining plate 210. The cover plate 220 is preferably supported by grommets 260.

As a result of its function, the length of the guiding means 230 extending beyond the side of the cover plate 220 opposite to the side facing the retaining plate 210 is longer than the length of the guiding means 230 extending between the retaining plate 210 and the cover plate 220 in the assembled state. Preferably, the length of the guiding means 230 extending beyond the cover plate 220 is at least 2, 3, 4, or 5 times the length of the guiding means 230 arranged between the retaining plate 210 and the cover plate 220 in the assembled state of the tray 201.

More preferably, the guiding means substantially extends from one end of the tray to the opposite end of the tray such as from a bottom plate to a lid or even passing through a lid (see figure 2) .

Figure 8 illustrates yet another embodiment of a tray 301. Like previous embodiments, this tray 301 comprises a bottom plate 350. A guiding means 330 is attached to and extends from the bottom plate 350. The guiding means 330 is formed as two guiding rods that extend from the bottom plate 350 up to a lid (not shown) that covers the tray as described above.

Further, a retaining plate 310 with foot portions 314 is arranged on top of and is supported by the bottom plate 350. The cross-section of the rods corresponds to the cross-section of the through holes. In order to facilitate insertion of the guiding means 330 (i. e. guiding rods) into the engagement means 316 (i. e. through holes) of the retaining plate 310 during assembly, the tips of the guiding rods may be tapered, in particular rounded (as shown) or chamfered.

As described in relation to previous embodiments, the retaining plate 310 comprises retaining apertures 311 for receiving grommets 360. The grommets 360 inserted into the retaining apertures 311 extend from the retaining plate 310 on the side of the retaining plate opposite to the side facing the bottom plate 350 (i. e. facing the lid if present) . As a result, the extending portions of the grommets 360 act as spacers that support the cover plate 320 in the assembled state of the tray 301.

In the embodiment shown in figure 8, the cover plate 320 comprises engagement means 326 formed as through holes at positions that correspond to the positions of the guiding means 330 (i. e. guiding rods) . During assembly and disassembly, the cover plate 320 is guided by means of the guiding rods and the through holes towards or away from the retaining plate 310.

In the assembled state and as already described above, the guiding means 330 preferably extends beyond the cover plate 320 in order to provide guidance when placing the cover plate 320 on top of the grommets 360. This configuration provides guidance to an extent that any contact of the circumference of the access apertures 321 with dental instruments supported by the grommets 360 may be prevented. Since the grommets are densely arranged and, thus, the dental instruments are densely arranged, this guidance by the guiding means 330 and engagement means 326 is particularly advantageous. The same applies in relation to the smaller access apertures of the cover plate 320.

The guiding means 330 and the engagement means 326 of the cover plate 320 are preferably provided as a pair of guiding rods and through holes, respectively. Consequently, any rotation and translation except for the direction of assembly/disassembly of the tray 301 is prevented. This may be achieved by providing 2, 3, 4 or 5 guiding rods that engage corresponding engagement means 326 and preferably also engagement means 316.

Although exemplary embodiments from above are shown with a lid 40, a guiding means 30, a bottom plate 50, and a tool cage 80, a basic embodiment of the present invention may only comprise a cover plate 20 and a retaining plate 10.

REFERENCE SIGNS

The following lists the last two digits of the reference signs used in the description and the drawings. Throughout the drawings these digits refer to features that have the same or an equivalent function and/or structure. The preceding digit represents the embodiment.

1 tray retaining plate

retaining apertures

front side

outer edge

foot portion

perforation holes

engagement means

cover plate

access apertures

access apertures of a different shape front side

back side

recess for grommet

engagement means

guiding means

engagement recess

undercut

lid

handle

part with reduced cross-section bracket

perforation hole

bar

recess

bottom plate

grommets

elastic element

collar

dental instrument

tool cage

retainer

container

lid