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FDA Warning on 39 Million Electric Toothbrushes

Serious Face, Mouth Injuries From Arm & Hammer, Crest 'Spinbrush'
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Feb. 17, 2012 -- The Spinbrush electric toothbrush -- heavily marketed to children -- can cause serious face and mouth injuries, the FDA warns.

More than 39 million of the toothbrushes have been sold under various brand names. But all are called "Spinbrush." Those currently on sale carry the Arm & Hammer brand. Those made until 2009 carried the Crest brand.

"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," says Shumaya Ali, MPH, a consumer safety officer at the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA has received reports of serious injuries from the Spinbrush. According to these reports:

  • While turned on, the brush head has either “popped off” or broken off in the user’s mouth or near the face, causing cuts to the mouth and gums, chipped or broken teeth, swallowing and choking on the broken pieces, and injuries to the face and eyes.
  • When the unexpected release of any part of the powered toothbrush occurs, there is a potential for serious injury. This risk is higher for unattended children or adults who may need assistance while using this device.

The electric toothbrushes aren't being recalled. Instead, the company that makes the products -- Church & Dwight Co. Inc. of Princeton, N.J. -- is telling consumers how to avoid injury.

This isn't the first time the Spinbrush has come to FDA attention. In May 2011, the FDA rebuked Church & Dwight for failing to tell the federal agency about injury reports it had received. And when the company did report injuries, crucial information was left out.

On Jan. 25 of this year, the company issued a "class II recall." This did not mean that consumers could return the products. Instead, the company issued safe-use instructions in television and print ads and on its web site.

The company warning states: "Please remember to replace your brush head after three months of use, or if the brush is damaged or if parts become loose. Extended usage, loose parts, or excessive wear could lead to brush head breakage, generation of small parts, and possible choking hazard. Inspect the brush for loose parts before use."

The FDA recommends that consumers who have a Spinbrush:

  • Inspect the Spinbrush for any damage or loose brush bristles prior to using. If you notice any damage or loose brush bristles, DO NOT USE.
  • 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.
  • Supervise children and adults who need assistance when using the Spinbrush.
  • Do not bite down on the brush head while brushing.
  • Follow the instructions and recommended replacement guidelines included with the Spinbrush.
  • NOTE: The brush head for the Kid’s Spinbrush is not replaceable. If you notice any damage or loose brush bristles, DO NOT USE.

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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