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FDA: Electric Toothbrushes May Cause Serious Injuries


Brushing one’s teeth not usually thought of as risky behavior—in fact, the opposite (yay for good dental hygiene!)—except if you’re using certain electric toothbrushes, warns the FDA.

Earlier today, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration issued a warning to consumers about potential dangers associated with the use of Arm & Hammer or Crest Spinbrushes. “When using your electric toothbrush, you don’t expect parts of the device to pop off and chip your tooth, fly into your eyes or get stuck in your throat,” reads the warning about the battery-powered Arm & Hammer Spinbrush—or the Crest Spinbrush, as it was called before 2009.

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Indeed, the FDA has received reports of serious injuries associated with these toothbrushes when turned on, including brush heads that either popped off or broke off in the user’s mouth or near the face, causing cuts to the mouth and gums, chipped or broken teeth, injuries to the face and eyes, and swallowing or choking on the broken pieces. The risk for serious injury is higher for unattended children or adults who may need assistance while brushing their teeth.

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This warning applies to ALL models of the Spinbrush, including:

  • Spinbrush ProClean
  • Spinbrush ProClean Recharge
  • Spinbrush Pro Whitening
  • Spinbrush SONIC
  • Spinbrush SONIC Recharge
  • Spinbrush Swirl
  • Spinbrush Classic Clean
  • Spinbrush For Kids
  • Spinbrush Replacement Heads 

While the “Spinbrush for Kids” models (which include handle designs like Spiderman and Thomas & Friends) don’t have removable brush heads that could pop off during use, the FDA has received reports of cut lips, burns from the batteries and bristles falling off and lodging in a child’s tonsils.

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The FDA recommends that consumers:

  • Inspect the Spinbrush for any damage or loose brush bristles before using it—and if there are any, refrain from using the brush. Report it to the manufacturer, Church & Dwight, which can be reached at 800-352-3384 or 800-561-0752.
  • Confirm that the head is properly connected to the handle of the brush (on adult models, the brush head can be removed)—and even test it on the outside of your mouth before using. If the connection feels loose or the headpiece comes off, don’t use the toothbrush, and report it to Church & Dwight.
  • Supervise kids and adults who need assistance when brushing their teeth.
  • Refrain from biting down on the brush head while brushing.

Last year, the FDA learned that Church & Dwight Co. Inc. had failed to report numerous consumer complaints to the agency. The FDA issued a warning to the company in May 2011 because of its failure to report serious injuries within a reasonable timeframe. Since then, the company has 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 color-changing bristles to indicate when the brush head should be replaced, and issued a safety notice about the Spinbrush in TV and print ads.

Does your family use electric or manual toothbrushes?