The Oral-B Pulsonic lives up to Oral-B's solid reputation for quality and durability. It has a slender and lightweight build, making it comfortable to hold and maneuver in the mouth. It has superb cleaning, and its sensitive setting makes it great for electric toothbrush experts and novices. On the other hand, it lacks many of the bells and whistles that the Oral-B ProfessionalCare SmartSeries 5000 with SmartGuide Electric Toothbrush has (our best-reviewed pick).
Invigorating clean. The Oral-B Pulsonic uses sonic technology and rapid side-to-side vibrations to clean teeth. It produces 27,000 vibrations per minute and has three brushing modes: clean, sensitive and massage. In clinical studies, the Oral-B Pulsonic is shown to remove a significant amount of plaque -- more than a manual toothbrush. Users at Amazon.com agree; most say their teeth feel just as clean as after a professional cleaning. One owner says the cleaning action feels, "incredibly invigorating!" Several say that the toothbrush also improves the condition of gums over time.
Comfortable to hold. Users say they are impressed by how comfortably the Oral-B Pulsonic fits in the hand. It has a slim and lightweight handle that is similar to the size and feel of a manual toothbrush. One owner says the slender build makes it "easy to maneuver around the mouth." Some reviewers also like that the toothbrush has a two-minute timer with 30-second intervals but doesn't turn off automatically like Sonicare models do. However, Stylelist.com's review points out that the power button can be very sensitive, making it easy to inadvertently turn off mid-brush or turn on while packed in a suitcase.
Features are sparse. The Oral-B Pulsonic is an inexpensive starter brush and, as such, doesn't offer nearly as many bells and whistles as other models. It includes three brushing settings and a two-minute timer with quadrant timer, but little else. The brushing settings don't have individual buttons, but rather a single button that users must tap repeatedly to reach the desired setting. It lacks a travel case or cover, and while it comes with a second "precision" brush head, one reviewer says she finds this head too intimidating to use.
Expected Oral-B quality. We didn't see many comments about the Pulsonic's durability. A couple of owners at Amazon.com, however, say they have had their Oral-B Pulsonics for more than four years. Furthermore, Oral-B power toothbrushes, in general, have a reputation for good quality and durability. The toothbrush has a two-year warranty, and replacement brush heads are relatively inexpensive -- about $6 each.
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1. Journal of Clinical Dentistry
In this randomized, examiner-blind study, researchers find no significant difference in efficacy between the Pulsonic and the Sonicare Flexcare. Both toothbrushes showed "highly effective stain removal efficacy." Researchers say both toothbrushes showed "highly effective stain removal efficacy." It is worth noting, Sonicare-sponsored studies have shown Oral-B brushes are not as effective. It is difficult to say which is accurate, if either.
Review: Clinical Assessment of Extrinsic Stain Removal Efficacy with a New Pulsonic Toothbrush, G.T. Terezhalmy, et al., 2009
2. American Journal of Dentistry
In this study, researchers found that the Oral-B Pulsonic is 62.3 percent more effective at reducing gingivitis, bleeding and plaque than a manual toothbrush. The clinical trial looked at 129 subjects with evidence of gingivitis for four weeks.
Review: Plaque and Gingivitis Reduction Efficacy of an Advanced Pulsonic Toothbrush: A 4-Week Randomized and Controlled Clinical Trial, N.C. Sharma, et al., December 2010
More than 500 reviewers at Amazon.com give the Oral-B Pulsonic an overall rating of 4 out of 5 stars. Most users compare the toothbrush to the Sonicare line of power toothbrushes. Users say the Pulsonic is very slender and lightweight, making it easy to hold. It's also quieter than Sonicare models. It doesn't have as many features, however, and the brush heads are a bit bulky.
Review: Oral-B Pulsonic Sonic Electric Toothbrush, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of March 2014
Cat Lincoln's review of the Pulsonic is balanced, offering both pros and cons. She applauds the sensitive setting, which makes this a nice "gateway" brush for electric toothbrush novices. While she loves the slim design (saying it's almost as small as a manual brush) and finds it does a pretty good job cleaning, she does note the absence of a travel case or cap, and the button is very touch-sensitive, making it less than optimal for travel.
Review: Review: Oral-B Pulsonic Toothbrush, Cat Lincoln, Aug. 26, 2008