They can help prevent tooth decay, but the FDA is now warning that some electric toothbrushes – specifically battery-powered Arm & Hammer Spinbrushes – can break or come apart during use, breaking teeth and posing a choking hazard.
In a safety alert issued Feb. 16, the agency, which regulates both manual and electric toothbrushes, said it had received reports of parts of the toothbrushes breaking off, causing chipped or broken teeth, cuts to the mouth and gums and injuries to the face and eyes. In some cases, people swallowed or choked on the broken pieces.
Several models of the Spinbrush, which was called the Crest Spinbrush before 2009, are mentioned in the alert:
• Spinbrush ProClean
• Spinbrush ProClean Recharge
• Spinbrush Pro Whitening
• Spinbrush SONIC
• Spinbrush SONIC Recharge
• Spinbrush Swirl
• Spinbrush Classic Clean
• Spinbrush For Kids
• Spinbrush Replacement Heads
The Spinbrush models for adults include a removable brush head that can be changed, but FDA says consumers have reported the head popping off during use, exposing a metal piece underneath and causing injuries.
Models for children, where the handles feature characters such as Spiderman or Thomas & Friends, do not have replaceable heads, but have still caused injuries – including cuts to lips, burns from the batteries that power the brush, and bristles from the brush head coming loose and lodging in a child’s tonsils. The FDA advises consumers and caregivers to:
• Inspect Spinbrushes for damage or loose bristles, and test it outside the mouth to make sure the brush head is tightly connected to the handle before use. Do not use a damaged brush. Report it to the manufacturer, Church & Dwight, at 1-800-352-3384 or 1-800-561-0752.
• Be careful not to bite down on the brush during use.
• Supervise children and others who might need help while brushing.
• Replace the brush or brush head every three months, as directed by the manufacturer.
Problems with the brushes can be reported to the FDA’s MedWatch reporting program online at www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch.