Some electric toothbrushes causing health problems, FDA says

Your dentist may recommend you use an electric toothbrush, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers of some potential hazards.

Some people who used the battery-powered Arm & Hammer Spinbrush experienced parts of the toothbrush popping off and chipping teeth, flying into their eyes or becoming lodged in their throat.

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

The FDA does regulate manual and electric toothbrushes.

Susan Runner, a dentist who is chief of the FDA’s dental services branch, said although these devices can be helpful in removing plaque and preventing decay, they can be hazardous – and if children are using them, they should always be supervised.

The FDA is alerting the public about the potential for injury while using the following models of Spinbrush:
• Spinbrush ProClean
• Spinbrush ProClean Recharge
• Spinbrush Pro Whitening
• Spinbrush SONIC
• Spinbrush SONIC Recharge
• Spinbrush Swirl
• Spinbrush Classic Clean
• Spinbrush For Kids
• Spinbrush Replacement Heads

The children’s models -  “Spinbrush for Kids” have a different design, and the heads are not removable. However, some problems with the children’s electric toothbrush have still been reported, including cut lips, battery burns and bristles that fell off and lodged in the child’s tonsils.

The FDA warned Church & Dwight Co. Inc., which manufactures the toothbrush, of violations in May 2011, and the company has done the following:

• Added bristles that change colors when it’s time to change the head
• Issued a safety notice about Spinbrush in TV and print ads
• Improved labeling to caution consumers that they should change the toothbrush’s head every three months – or sooner, especially if the head is loose

The company's website,, also offers a reminder to change the head of an electric toothbrush every three months, or sooner if parts become damaged. 

"Extended usage, loose parts or excessive wear could lead to brush head breakage, generation of small parts and possible choking hazard," according to the website. "Inspect brush for loose parts before use."

Click here to learn more from the FDA.