your Electric Toothbrush May be damaging your gums

I’ve used a Sonicare for nearly 20 years. As a kid I had cavities all the time. When I switched from manual to Sonicare that immediately stopped. I’ve literally not had a cavity since High School. Unfortunately one problem was replaced with another. A few years ago my dentist started telling me that my gums were getting thin as a result of my “aggressive brushing,” something he said was common with New Yorkers (I guess channeling their anxiety!?) using Sonicare. Under normal circumstances, he told me, you shouldn’t see this kind of thing until you’re 60-plus. When using an electric toothbrush you’re supposed to place it on your teeth and let the brush work on its own – habit, however, makes me (and apparently many others) move the brush back and forth causing gum damage.

So what happened? Fast forward 4-5 years of twice a year warnings and I was faced with needing a gum graft. What’s that you might wondering? I sure didn’t know this would be in my future! It’s a dental surgical procedure that removes healthy gum tissue from the roof of the mouth and uses it to build the gum back up where it receded. It was pretty quick and painless (as gross as it sounds), but did major damage to my wallet (a few thousand) and again this is something I could have easily prevented! Well…I clearly didn’t learn because a few months ago I was told I would need another one for a different area I had worn down. This time I took action.

I have let go of my beloved Sonicare and instead, per my dentist’s recommendation, have been using the OralB Pro 8000 ($150), which has a pressure sensor that alerts you when you brush too hard. My teeth feel just as clean as they did before but thanks to the toothbrush alerting me when I apply too much pressure I’m forming better habits… plus even if I wasn’t learning from my mistakes the toothbrush automatically slows down the brush head speed and stops the pulsations to reduce brushing force. There are also a bunch of other features and a connecting app for those into that kind of thing (personally I’m convinced my iPhone already knows too much so I avoid most apps…).

In any case, next time you’re in that dentist chair I would urge anyone to ask about how their gums are looking! If you feel sensitivity during cleaning it’s a sign that gum recession may be an issue.

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