Danger alert: Beware the electric toothbrush


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The bathroom is ripe with hidden dangers — mold, leaky sink, slippery tub. But just when you thought the list had been capped, a new potential threat comes a-knockin’.

The electric toothbrush, namely the battery-powered Arm & Hammer Spinbrush (or the Crest Spinbrush, as it was called before 2009) has been stirring up some trouble. Not just a thorough way to clean your teeth anymore, this bathroom essential has reportedly been injuring some of its users.

The Spinbrush handle has batteries and a motor that operates the brushes, which are attached to a brush head. In the Spinbrush model for adults, the brush head is removable and can be replaced, and this brush head can pop off during use, poking the user in the cheek and areas near the eyes.

Injuries reported include chipped or broken teeth, cuts to the mouth and gums, swallowing and choking on broken pieces, and injury to the face and eyes.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has put an alert on the following Spinbrush models: Spinbrush ProClean, Spinbrush ProClean Recharge, Spinbrush Pro Whitening, Spinbrush SONIC, Spinbrush SONIC Recharge, Spinbrush Swirl, Spinbrush Classic Clean, Spinbrush For Kids, and Spinbrush Replacement Heads.

“It’s important that consumers know how to avoid the risks associated with using the Spinbrush,” said Shumaya Ali, M.P.H., a consumer safety officer at the FDA, in a press release. “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.”

After the FDA’s inspection of Church & Dwight, which manufactures the Spinbrush, last year revealed consumer complaints that had not been reported to the agency, the company has taken some steps to prevent injury:
• Improved labeling to caution consumers to change the brush head every three months or sooner if the brush is worn or parts are loose;
• Added bristles that change color with wear; and
• A safety notice about Spinbrush in TV, print ads, the Spinbrush website and the interactive voice response to consumers who call the company’s toll-free telephone numbers.

If you plan to continue using the brush, check that the brush head is connected tightly to the brush handle, and test the brush outside of your mouth first. Do not bite down on the brush head.

Before using the Spinbrush, inspect it for any damage or loose brush bristles. If you find any, do not use the brush. Report it to Church & Dwight, which can be reached toll-free at (800) 352-3384 or (800) 561-0752.

Report injuries or problems with the Spinbrush to MedWatch — FDA’s Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program:
Online: accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/medwatch/
Regular Mail: Use postage-paid, pre-addressed FDA form 3500
Fax: (800) FDA-0178
Phone: (800) 332-1088