DR. GOTT: Can electric toothbrush cause gums to recede?
DEAR DR. GOTT: I enjoy brushing my teeth with an electric toothbrush, a habit I have had for years. I’m an 83-year-old female and I know gums tend to recede with age, however slightly. Wouldn’t using such power twice every day exacerbate this?
I am delighted that I still have my own teeth. I have no dental hygiene problems and certainly don’t want to cause any.
DEAR READER: If you have been using an electric toothbrush for a long time and still have all your teeth, I guess you haven’t done anything wrong.
Yes, gums do recede as we age, but I’m referring to gums that expose the root surfaces of teeth. This is common in people over the age of 40 and can result from aggressive tooth brushing, periodontal disease, gingivitis and other disorders. The best way of avoiding receding gums is to brush without exerting excessive pressure. Use circular or back and forth motions rather than long swipes with the brush.
My guess is you have regular checkups with your dentist. If he or she has not indicated you have a problem, keep up the good work. You’re an example many of us should look up to. Oh, by the way, keep smiling!
DEAR DR. GOTT: Does hydrogen peroxide help with hard earwax in children, and how much should I use? I thought I read that two drops in each ear every night was correct, but I’m unsure.
DEAR READER: Ear wax protects the ear by preventing bacteria, dust and foreign matter from entering and causing damage. Wax can build up in the ear canal but can also occur if a person attempts to clean the ear but inadvertently pushes the wax deeper into the canal.
Softeners can include glycerin, hydrogen peroxide, baby oil, olive oil, mineral oil or almond oil, saline solution, or over-the-counter preparations designed for such a purpose. Hydrogen peroxide and other methods should be used only if you are sure there is no infection, discharge, redness or hearing impairment. You are correct in that two drops is the proper amount to use, but I am unsure why you feel nightly use is necessary, unless you have had a major problem with wax impaction.
Some people prefer to first use a couple of drops of one of the oils I mentioned, wait a minute or two for it to soften the wax, use an eye dropper to add two drops of warmed hydrogen peroxide and wait until the bubbling stops. Then have the person tip his or her head to the side to catch any residue in a small towel. It’s always more comfortable to warm the products going into the ear. This can be accomplished by immersing both oil and peroxide bottles in a small bowl of warm water briefly before beginning the process.
If you don’t already do this or if you use only peroxide, you might want to try the combination routine. However, you should use peroxide only when absolutely necessary, because it can cause severe dryness of the ear, resulting in further issues.
To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report “Ear Infections and Disorders.” Other readers who would like a copy should send a self-addressed, stamped No. 10 envelope and a $2 check or money order payable to Newsletter and forwarded to PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092-0167. Be sure to mention the title or print out an order form from my website http://www.AskDrGottMD.com.