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Medically Reviewed
Published: February 7, 2024

How to charge an electric toothbrush

Author: Jon Love (20 Comments)
Medical reviewer: Dr Gemma Wheeler, BDS
How to charge an electric toothbrush 1

An electric toothbrush needs a power source to be able to work.  That power source is a battery or batteries in some cases.

Electric toothbrushes come in two forms: those with removable batteries (designed to be removed) and those with fixed internal batteries (not designed to be removed under normal circumstances).

In this article I will explain how to charge an electric toothbrush, how it works and how to know when your brush is charged.

Does your brush have removable batteries?

The first thing to determine is if your brush has a fixed internal or removable battery.

Most electric toothbrushes have batteries fixed inside, which can be removed with tools, but are not designed to be done at home.

Cheaper or more basic brushes have removable batteries.  Quite often these are removed or replaced via the bottom of the brush handle.  It will normally be quite obvious or not whether you can remove the battery.

There will be a removable cap that gives access to the battery compartment.

Toothbrush with removable AAA battery

Most brushes that do not have removable batteries will have a recess on the bottom of it that looks similar to that in the image below.

How to charge an electric toothbrush 2

If there is no obvious way to access the battery then it is likely the brush has a built in battery.

If the brush came with batteries that is a sign that it has removable batteries. If the brush came with a charging stand then this is a sign that the brush has a fixed internal battery.

I will now guide you through the charging process and how to know if your brush is charged.

I have split this article into two parts.  The first part is for those what have brushes with built in batteries, whilst the second part is for those who have brushes with removable batteries.

How to charge a toothbrush with fixed (non removable) batteries

This article is designed to explain the charging process for the majority of electric toothbrushes.  There are always one of two that fall outside of what is the normal process.

This is a guide only and it is always advised where possible to consult your instruction manual or the direction provided by the manufacturer of the brush.

In most cases, an electric toothbrush is charged by sitting the brush handle onto a charging stand.

The charging stand will normally come provided with the brush.  It will be a round or square shaped plate in most cases with a prong (protuberance) that sits upright in the center.

Philips Sonicare toothbrush charging stand for USA

On the base of the electric toothbrush will be a recess into which that prong fits when the brush is sat on the stand.

Typically the brush will stand in an upright position when on the stand to receive charge.

Oral-B toothbrush sat on charging stand

Most charging stands have a cable wired into them that leads to a plug that connects to the power outlet in the bathroom.  It is normally a 2 power adapter, like any other appliance in the home.

Ariel view of Oral-B toothbrush charger

Many question how this charging works, without physically connecting a cable to the brush.  It uses a technology called inductive charging. The short explanation is that the charger uses a coiled wire inside the charging stand and a coiled wire inside the brush handle. An electromagnetic field an electrical current is passed between the coils, in turn passing the charge from the stand to the battery inside the brush handle.

So when the charging stand is connected to mains power a current is transferred from the socket, through the stand into the toothbrush and over time this recharges the battery inside the brush.

Ariel view of Sonicare DiamondClean charging glass

As mentioned there are a few exceptions, such as the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean.  It appears to charge in a glass.  It works using the same technology, just implemented slightly differently.  

The Sonicare DiamondClean and the Oral-B Genius 8000 both can be charged in a travel case rather than a stand.  The principle of how they charge is the same, it is just implemented slightly differently.

How to tell when the battery is charged

How you know whether your electric toothbrushes battery is fully charged or not will depend on the brand and model that you have.

Whilst between all of these there will be subtle differences in how you can tell whether they are charged or not, there are some general rules you can consider to help decide.

For the most accurate information for your toothbrush refer to the manufacturer’s documentation.

Whether you have an Oral-B, Sonicare or Colgate toothbrush, one way to ensure your brush is fully charged is to leave it on charge for a long period of time.  The vast majority will charge fully within 8-16 hours, but some can take up to 24 hours.

Irrespective of brand if you left it on charge for 24 hours, it would be fully charged by the end of it.

Some brushes will have a battery status icon on the front of the brush handle.  Normally if this is a solid green color or no longer lit then the battery is fully charged.  If it is a flashing green, it is quite often charging.  Red or yellow colors usually depict less charge or almost no charge remaining.

Some brushes will have a battery icon on the front of the brush handle that may well be split into 3 or 4 bars.  If all 4 bars are lit, this is often a sign it is fully charged.

In most instances, manufacturers do suggest it is safe to leave your brush on the charging stand at all times.  If you take this approach it is unlikely you will ever be in a position where you are out of power.

As a guide (not an extensive list), Oral-B suggest the charging times for their models are as follows:

  • Vitality – 16 hours
  • Pro 500 – 16 hours
  • Pro 1000 – 22 hours
  • Pro 3000 – 22 hours
  • Pro 5000 – 22 hours
  • Pro 6000 – 15 hours
  • Pro 6500 – 15 hours
  • Pro 7000 – 22 hours
  • Genius Pro 8000 – 12 hours
  • Genius 9600 – 12 hours
  • Genius X - 12 hours
  • iO Series - 3 hours
How to charge an electric toothbrush 3

Sonicare suggest as a general rule that the charging times for all their models are up to 24 hours.  Longer than Oral-B, this is typically because their batteries last longer, but they do also suggest it is fine to leave it on the charger.

Some models will give indicators via the charging lights and battery status icons as explained earlier.

A good tip to ensure long term reliability and performance from your brush is to discharge the brush completely every 6 months and then recharge it fully.  Such activity helps ensure a long battery life. It is also worth noting that if you need to use the brush and it has not finished charging this is fine.  Use the brush and replace it on the charging stand.

Brushes that have run out of power completely may need 30 minutes or so on the charger before they can be used for one clean or before any charging lights may appear.

Can I leave the toothbrush on the charging stand?

Many people ask whether they can leave their electric toothbrush on the charging stand as they fear that leaving it on the stand for prolonged periods of time can be damaging to the battery or potentially be a safety hazard.

You should always consult the manual of your electric toothbrush to check what the guidelines and operational instructions are from your toothbrush manufacturer as it can vary.

However, as a general rule, it is normally perfectly fine to leave a toothbrush on the charging stand and always on charge.

The charging stand often serves 2 purposes.  The first, to give a place for the electric toothbrush to sit securely when not in use, and secondly a means to be recharged when the battery power is low.

The power cable of the charging stand does not have to always be connected to power.  It is perfectly safe to disconnect the power and leave the brush fitted to the charging stand.  Doing so will keep the toothbrush upright and reduce any potential risk and damage to the toothbrush.

How to charge an electric toothbrush 4

Leaving the power cable connected is generally fine also, but it is not necessarily required.

If you keep the power connected to the charging stand, the toothbrush will be continually topped up and ready to go.

Most electric toothbrushes have electronic circuits in them that stop the brush from over-charging.  This means, once the battery is full, the brush will automatically stop charging.  Only when the power is less than full will the brush begin accepting a charge again.

It is less common today, but in the past, leaving the brush on the stand, whilst connected to power would wear the battery out quicker, causing what was known as a ‘memory effect’.

Newer toothbrushes are less prone to this, particularly those with Lithium-Ion batteries.

There is differing opinion about how to keep the battery in optimum condition.  The reality is, that for most it is not worth worrying about too much.  The majority of users will just leave their brush on the charging stand connected to mains power.

If you do want to really try and gain the absolute maximum from the battery, it is best to charge it fully and then discharge it almost entirely (not completely), down to say approximately 20% then recharge it.

Taking this approach ensures you get fuller charging cycles, rather than letting the battery discharge to 75% and then keep topping it up.

How to charge an electric toothbrush 5

How to charge a brush with removable batteries

When a brush has removable batteries, you are not charging the brush.  This is a term that applies only to those with batteries built into the brush handle.

There is no way to recharge the batteries whilst inside the brush.

In this instance you need to dispose of the batteries that came out of the brush and replace them with equivalent new batteries, typically they are AA or AAA batteries.

You can buy rechargeable AA or AAA batteries.  These rechargeable batteries can normally be used in a brush that accepts removable batteries.  These rechargeable batteries need to be charged in a special plug/piece of equipment that you would have received (in most cases) with the rechargeable batteries.

How to charge an electric toothbrush 6

If using removable rechargeable batteries, do not throw them away, simply put them in the charger when the power has run out and leave to charge until they are full (follow instructions from the manufacturer of batteries).

Once charged, place back into the toothbrush.

How to tell when the batteries are charged

Quite often the charging module for the batteries will give an indication when they are charged or not via an LED or status symbol on the charging unit.

There are a vast number of different types of rechargeable battery units, so this may not apply in your particular instance, so where possible refer to the manufacturer’s instruction manual.

More often than not a few hours on charge will replenish the battery.

Author: Jon Love
Medical reviewer: Dr Gemma Wheeler, BDS

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Leave a comment

Maria Chandler
November 16, 2023

What happens if my toothbrush stops charging? On the stand? Do I need to buy a new one? Mine stopped working

Jon Love - Chief tester
November 16, 2023

Possibly. It depends on whether the stand is at fault or the toothbrush.
If your brush is under warranty it might be repaired/replaced rather than you having to buy one.
Can you provide more details and I can try and assit.

Maria Chandler
November 16, 2023

Hi Jon, thanks for replying. It's 4 years old. Not sure if it'll still be under guarantee. Doubt it. Will look for the papers. Thanks much.

Jon Love - Chief tester
November 16, 2023

In that case it is unlikely it is within warranty. Some brands do provide out of warranty service, at a cost, but there are variables. Often it's not economically viable.

November 9, 2022

To plug in to shaver socket which of the 2 sockets do you use 230v or 115v for Oral B pro3 thank you

Jon Love - Chief tester
November 10, 2022

If this is for a UK/European version of the Pro 3 then you can use the 230v.

September 20, 2022

If a new internal battery toothbrush comes with usb cable instead of an outlet plug to attach the wireless charger, can the adapter also have charging capability or just a standard outlet adapter with no charging capacity other than electrical power th the toothbrush charger.

Had to correct name…

Jon Love - Chief tester
September 20, 2022

Hi Marshall.
Sorry, I am not sure I understand what you are saying.
Some electric toothbrushes come with a rechargeable battery inside the handle. The charging stand for that toothbrush often now has a USB cable built into the stand. The 2 pin power outlet adapter is then separate and must be connected to the USB stand to charge the toothbrush.
Or the USB stand can connect to other USB power sources, like a computer or laptop for example.

Marshall Kelly
September 20, 2022

this is a new sonic toothbrush with a permanent battery incased in the handle, not a replaceable one. Usually these units come with a normal wall plug in to connect with an outlet. This one only had a usb connector.

If I buy an adapter that has charging capability, it would be doing the job the stand is supposed to do and I thought could over charge the tooth brush. So I am simply looking for a non charging adapter so I can plug the adapter into the wall outlet, and the usb plug into it.

Is that more clear?

Jon Love - Chief tester
September 21, 2022

Thanks Marshall for the extra explanation, this helps.

I know the toothbrushes you mean and the adapter you are after.

Do you have a smartphone or any other USB powered devices that have a USB to 2 pin wall adapter? If so you can use that same adapter for your toothbrush charger. Just connect the USB cable into the adapter and into the socket.
Failing that you can get USB to 2 pin power adapters in most electrical and hardware stores.

andy a mincer
April 1, 2022

I have an itechnik sonic toothbtush that got into the discharge mode. I can't understand the (english by a chinese) directions for returning it to the operating mode. Can you help? Thanks.

Jon Love - Chief tester
April 1, 2022

Hi Andy. I am afraid this is not a toothbrush I have used to be able to assist.

andy a mincer
April 1, 2022

Okay, thanks.

Lisa Barnes
November 12, 2020

Mine and my husband' s Oral B Electric Toothbrush has black mold spots on the handle of the brush .
This has never happened before.
I have tried to clean the handle on both of them.
His has more than mine.
But I am very upset about this.
Because our teeth are very important.
So what solution do you have?
Is there something going on with these toothbrushes to do this?
Please let me know right away asap!!!!!

Jon Love - Chief tester
November 13, 2020

Hi Lisa.

Thanks for the comment. Sorry to hear about the issues you are having.

Mold can potentially form on toothbrushes for a number of reasons, but generally speaking, it does not happen. If specific conditions are right it can.

There are some tips for cleaning the toothbrush here. I suspect you will have already tried this.

Regular cleaning and allowing the brushes to dry all helps. A mild cleaning agent may also help lift and mold off of the handle.

For further assistance, you may wish to speak to Oral-B directly to see if they have any additional tips or suggestions.

October 18, 2020

It took 1/2 of the article before the writer talked about how to charge an electric toothbrush. Then, the final suggestion is to follow the instructions in the manual. I want my 5 minutes back.

December 17, 2020

I charged a new Sonex ultrasound toothbrush which had been unused since I bought it 15 years ago. After charging the first time, everything worked fine. However I noticed that the cord which had been perfectly white when removed from the box is now discolored especially near the base of the the
Charger. The cord has darkened spots throughout its length. Is it safe to use when the cord is discolored and why did it get discolored? Thanks

Jon Love - Chief tester
October 19, 2020

I am sorry the article didn't give you the information that you wanted or it was not presented in a way that you felt convenient.

I am open to all forms of feedback. Please do let me know what brought you to this article and how I could make it better?

Why I have structured the article the way I have is to explain the different types of electric toothbrushes and different battery types. This has a bearing on the charging process.

Ultimately, the manual should be the reference point as each model of toothbrush can be different and it is not possible for me to cover every possible scenario and configuration.

I look forward to hearing from you.

john bocks
August 8, 2020

Good site. Thanks!

I came wondering how to maximize the life of my Oral B rechargeable brush. Good answers and explanations on charging.

My other question was how often to change brush heads.

Jon Love - Chief tester
August 9, 2020

Hi John.

Pleased to read that you have found the site helpful.

On average you want to be changing your brush head every 3 months.

April 21, 2020

I have taken my oral b toothbrush apart, it has a sealed battery and it is not charging. I have 2 chargers and neither of them work. The circuit board looks good and no broken wires, how can I fix this or test the charging system. I can easily just go buy a new one but I like to know what the problem is and how to fix it. Thanks

Jon Love - Chief tester
April 22, 2020

Hi Nels.

I am a fan of your desire to fix it and not just replace it with new. I am however afraid I cannot advise as I am not trained in the construction and internal workings of these brushes to be able to offer such assistance.

You could try calling Oral-B but I don't think they will be willing to help as by opening the brush you have invalidated the warranty.

Robert Bryant
January 8, 2020

My new toothbrush was ready for charging. I have used oral b brushes in the past and am familiar with how they recharge. In this case it began intermittent blinking as usual. This morning, some 24 hours later, the light was a constant blinking and the brush was not charged, lasting only about 45 seconds. What does this mean?

Jon Love - Chief tester
January 9, 2020

Hi Robert.

Sounds a little unusual.

What toothbrush is it?

After the 45 seconds, does the brush turn off like it has a flat battery or will it turn on again?

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