You should consult with your dentist or hygienist before making a choice. Here's why:

It would be expected that the "typical" adult user can easily tolerate a 40,000/3D brushing action. However, in your case you anticipate that you cannot. The question then becomes why?

Is it because your gum health is poor? If so, the less effective brushing action of a 20,000/3D model might clean more effectively than you have been when using a regular toothbrush. But generally speaking you could expect a greater level of gum health improvement when using a model with a more effective brushing action.

The idea is that as the health of your gums improves they become less sensitive (at least for many people, that's one reason why Sonicare models offer their Easy-Start feature). And if all of this first scenario is true for your situation, you might purchase a 3000 model and initially use it on the Sensitive setting. Then later on when your gums are in better health, switch to its full-power mode. Maintaining a higher level of gum health should be easier over the long term when using the better brush set to its most effective mode.

If it is the touch of the brush to your teeth themselves that causes your sensitivity, then this is an issue that your dentist should be addressing (in cases where a person's teeth are otherwise in good health, simply using a toothpaste for "sensitive teeth," or else fluoride applications, might be all the treatment that's needed).

However, if you've already sought treatment for this matter from your dentist to no avail, then possibly a lower speed brushing action must be used. But don't choose a second-tier brush without knowing that a solution doesn't exist.

So, some questions need to be answered. It seems possibly only your dentist or hygienist can answer them and give you the proper advice. To us, the 3000 seems the better choice (more options, although admittedly more expensive). But like you've stated, it's not if there's no chance you can make use of its more powerful brushing setting.

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