FDA Warns of Power Toothbrush Hazards

Laird Harrison

Disclosures

February 17, 2012

February 17, 2012 — The brush head of the Spinbrush brand of electric toothbrushes can come off and injure the user, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned February 16.

Manufactured by Church & Dwight, the brush was sold under the Crest Spinbrush name until 2009; it is now sold as the Arm & Hammer Spinbrush.

The manufacturer could not be reached for comment.

The FDA warned about the following models:

  • Spinbrush ProClean

  • Spinbrush ProClean Recharge

  • Spinbrush Pro Whitening

  • Spinbrush Sonic

  • Spinbrush Sonic Recharge

  • Spinbrush Swirl

  • Spinbrush Classic Clean

  • Spinbrush for Kids

  • Spinbrush Replacement Heads

"It's important that consumers know how to avoid the risks associated with using the Spinbrush," Shumaya Ali, MPH, a consumer safety officer, says on the agency's Web site. "We've had reports in which parts of the toothbrush broke off during use and were released into the mouth with great speed, causing broken teeth and presenting a choking hazard."

The FDA said some users have choked on broken pieces, and the risk is particularly high for anyone, such as a child, who needs special assistance in brushing, the agency said.

The adult model comes with a replaceable head, but the head is not supposed to come off on its own.

The Spinbrush for Kids models do not have removable heads, but the agency has nevertheless received reports of injury from these models, including cut lips, burns from the batteries, and "bristles falling off and lodging in a child's tonsils."

In a 2011 inspection, the FDA found that Church & Dwight had received many consumer complaints that it did not report to the agency, the FDA said.

On May 16, 2011, the FDA warned the company that it was in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

Church & Dwight has taken some actions to improve the safety of its brush since then, the FDA said. It included labels with the brush that caution the user to change the brush head every 3 months if there is no sign of wear, and sooner if there are signs of wear or parts are loose.

It also added bristles that change color with wear so that users know when to replace the head.

In addition, the manufacturer warned consumers about the brush in television and print ads, on the brushes' Web site, and in the interactive voice response to consumers who call the company's toll-free telephone numbers.

The agency issued the following recommendations:

  • Inspect the Spinbrush for any damage or loose brush bristles before using. If you notice any damage or loose brush bristles, do not use the brush.

  • Check to be sure that the headpiece is connected properly to the handle of the brush, and test your brush outside of the mouth prior to using. If you notice the connection feels loose or the headpiece easily detaches from the handle, do not use the brush.

  • Supervise anyone who might need assistance when using the brush.

  • Do not bite down on the brush head while brushing.

To report adverse events related to Spinbrush toothbrushes, contact MedWatch, the FDA's safety information and adverse event reporting program, by telephone at 1-800-FDA-1088, by fax at 1-800-FDA-0178, online at https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/medwatch/medwatch-online.htm, or by mail to MedWatch, FDA, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, Maryland 20852-9787.

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