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FDA Warns Certain Electric Toothbrushes Hazardous

(From MSNBC)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a consumer safety update about a brand of electric toothbrushes that’s been found to chip teeth, cut gums and generally wreak havoc with your face.

tooth brushes
Tooth Brush Warning photo by FDA

Injuries reported from use of the battery-powered Spinbrush toothbrush, sold by both Arm & Hammer and Crest (before 2009), include chipped or broken teeth, cuts to the mouth and gums, injuries to the face and eyes and choking hazards thanks to broken pieces.

According to a consumer safety officer at the FDA, reports indicate that parts of the toothbrush have broken off during use, causing them to be “released into the mouth with great speed, causing broken teeth and presenting a choking hazard.”

The Spinbrush, manufactured by Church & Dwight Co., Inc., comes in both adult and children’s models under the following names: Spinbrush ProClean; Spinbrush ProClean Recharge; Spinbrush Pro Whitening; Spinbrush SONIC; Spinbrush SONIC Recharge; Spinbrush Swirl; Spinbrush Classic Clean, and Spinbrush for Kids.

All have the potential for injury, according to the FDA.

The adult Spinbrush model has a brush head that is removable and can be replaced. However, the brush head has popped off in some cases, exposing metal pieces that have poked users in the cheek and eye areas, causing injuries. The child’s model, Spinbrush for Kids (which includes Spiderman and Thomas & Friends designs), does not come with a removable head, however, it, too, has caused problems, including cut lips, burns from the batteries, and bristles which have fallen off and lodged in a child’s tonsils.

“We are particularly concerned about the problems with these toothbrushes as they appear to be geared towards children,” said Dr. Susan Runner, branch chief for Dental Devices in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “The hazards that have been reported are potentially very serious, and parents should be aware of helping young children with tooth brushing both for safety reasons and for assuring adequacy of brushing.”

Last year, the FDA issued a warning to Church & Dwight Co Inc. based on an inspection which found numerous consumer complaints about the product that had not been reported to the agency. The manufacturer responded to the FDA warning by improving its labeling to caution consumers about changing the brush head after three months; adding bristles that changed color to help reminder consumers to swap out the brush head and issuing a safety notice in TV and print ads which warns that if the brush head is not replaced after three months’ use or becomes damaged or loose that it “could lead to brush head breakage, generation of small parts and possible choking hazard.”

In the safety alert issued today, the FDA advises parents, caregivers and consumers to inspect the Spinbrush before use for loose or damaged brush bristles and to make sure the brush head is connected tightly to the brush handle. If the brush head or bristles are loose (or damaged), the FDA says the Spinbrush should not be used and the issue should be reported to the manufacturer at 1-800-352-3384 or 1-800-561-0752.

In addition, the FDA advises Spinbrush users to never bite down on the brush head while brushing and to follow all instructions and recommended replacement guidelines for the product.

The FDA also recommends that anyone suffering an injury or problem with the Spinbrush contact the FDA’s Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program by calling 1-800-332-1088 or using going to the website.

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