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Posted at 03:20 PM ET, 02/17/2012

Toothbrushes behaving badly: FDA issues Spinbrush warning

When you’re using a toothbrush, you don’t expect it to chip a tooth, poke your eye or pose a choking hazard.

But that’s just what the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers some battery-powered “spinning” toothbrushes may do.


Two models of the Spinbrush. (Courtesy of FDA)

In a statement issued Thursday, the FDA cautioned about what the Arm & Hammer Spinbrush (before 2009, the Crest Spinbrush) is capable of doing.

The agency says it’s received reports that pieces of such toothbrushes have popped off during use and caused such problems as chipped or broken teeth, cuts to the mouth and gums and injuries to the face and eyes. In some instances, the FDA notes, users have swallowed or choked on broken pieces of their toothbrushes. Spinbrushes come in adult and child-oriented versions.

Spinbrushes are manufactured by Church & Dwight Co., Inc. In 2011, the FDA inspected the company and learned of many consumer complaints about Spinbrushes that the company had failed to report to the agency. The FDA subsequently warned the company about the violations it had found. In response, the company has added safety notices to its Web site and TV and print ads and changed the product's label to include a message urging consumers to change the brush head on their Spinbrushes at least every three months, among other actions.

The FDA says Spinbrushes can do an excellent job of cleaning teeth and removing dental plaque. But the agency recommends inspecting such brushes before use, checking for loose parts, and making sure they’re running properly before putting them in your mouth. Kids should be supervised when using Spinbrushes, the FDA notes.

The agency’s statement features advice for maintaining your Spinbrush and provides information about how to report any problems with those toothbrushes.

Church & Dwight responded to my request for comment with a prepared statement; here's an excerpt:

“There have been a small number of adverse event reports involving minor injury such as a chipped tooth, which we have shared with the FDA, but it is important to consider the relatively low incidence of these adverse event reports.  Nearly 40 million Spinbrush toothbrushes have been sold during the past two years, generating approximately 1.5 billion brushing events on an annual basis.  The few adverse events that have been reported represent an extremely low incidence rate, and in the rare instances of these adverse events, they were the result of the product being used well beyond its recommended life or consumer misuse.  Spinbrush products are safe and effective when used as directed.  We are aware of no incidents of serious injury to consumers.

Church & Dwight takes consumer safety very seriously, and we have investigated and followed-up on all the consumer reports received related to Spinbrush products.  We have robust systems in place to respond to consumer complaints and the rare reports of problems with our products.  We maintain and firmly believe that, when used as directed, Spinbrush toothbrushes are safe products.  We will continue to educate consumers about responsible and safe use of battery-powered toothbrushes.”

Have you ever had a problem while using a Spinbrush? Share your story here, please!

This story has been updated.

By  |  03:20 PM ET, 02/17/2012

Tags:  Health care, Health

 
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