How To Charge Your Electric Toothbrush & Can You Overcharge It?

Modern electric toothbrush with a charger on pink pastel background

You know how when you get a new fun electronic—like a phone or a computer—it comes with “rules” on how you’re supposed to charge it. Or not charge it? Electric toothbrush charging isn’t all that different. But it is definitely possible to over-think charging your electric toothbrush or not do it correctly at all. Thankfully there’s not a whole lot you can mess up when it comes to electric toothbrush charging! 

About Electric Toothbrush Charging

Depending on the type of electric toothbrush you’re using, you have one of two choices: one with an internal built-in battery that you charge by sitting on a base, or two, a brush that uses removable batteries you change out. 

In either scenario, you’ll only have so much power before electric toothbrush charging (or battery replacement) is needed again. Is one better than another? It depends on your budget, personal preferences, and let’s face it, how great you are about keeping extra batteries on hand. 

Regular Batteries Or Rechargeable Batteries?

If you have the type of electric toothbrush where the batteries are traditional, removable AA or AAA batteries, you can change them out whenever your brush dies. Normally these brushes have some type of a water-tight screw-on cover at the bottom of the handle where you can access the batteries. Those with internally built-in batteries won’t have a removable battery cover. 

Now when you talk about removable batteries you can either use traditional batteries or go with rechargeable ones. Rechargeable batteries help cut down on waste, costs, and inconvenience if your kids are always grabbing regular batteries from your stash at home. A rechargeable battery looks just like a regular battery, except it’s chargeable when you use it with an appropriate charging base that plugs into the wall. The downside is you’ll have to wait for them to re-charge and know where you store your toothbrush charger before you can use your electric toothbrush again. 

How To Charge An Electric Toothbrush

Most popular electric toothbrushes have permanent, internal batteries that last the life of the brush. But they still run out of energy and need to be recharged every so often. Depending on the type of toothbrush you have, it might be an average of two weeks before your battery runs out and needs to be recharged. Your manufacturer will say one way or another what the average time is that it can hold a charge. 

When you charge your rechargeable brush, make sure you set it directly on top of the charging base. Some of these have a small protrusion in the middle of the base, while others are flat. Sonicare even has a model where the brush sits inside of a fancy glass, with no visible base.  All of these bases use a special inductive charging technology that, when close enough to your brush, charges the battery inside of it without physically plugging the brush into the wall. 

What Is Inductive Charging?

Inductive charging is the type of wireless “radio” charging that you see whenever you’re charging an electric toothbrush. Even though wires are involved (your base plugs into the wall) there isn’t a physical plug or wire where the brush and base are touching one another. Rather, there’s a special internal coil inside of the base and the toothbrush that are “connected” with a magnetic field. Whenever they get close enough to one another, the coil in the toothbrush picks up the connection with the coil in the base. This creates an electromagnetic field where electricity can pass from one to the other, charging the toothbrush’s internal battery.[1]

How Long Does It Take To Charge The Toothbrush?

Every toothbrush is different, but the typical charging time for an electric brush is about 12-24 hours. Does that mean you can’t use your brush if you’re only charging it for an hour or two? Not necessarily. It just means that it usually takes about a full day (or overnight) for the battery to completely recharge all the way.

If you’re getting a brand new electric toothbrush and you’re charging it for the very first time, you’ll probably need to charge it overnight or 24 hours to make sure the battery is fully ready to use. But there’s certainly nothing wrong with going ahead and brushing your teeth before you put the first charge on it. After all, if you’re anything like me, you’re probably super excited to finally get to try it out!

Can You Overcharge Your Toothbrush?

Some people assume that you need to let the battery in your toothbrush run all the way out before you charge it again. But this isn’t your phone or your computer. We’re talking small scale batteries here that are “just” for brushing your teeth. That being said, no, you can’t overcharge your toothbrush. It’s perfectly fine to leave your base plugged in and allow your toothbrush to charge every time you’re finished using it. 

On the flipside, it’s also just fine to allow your brush battery to run all the way out before you charge it again. If you’re someone who travels a lot and prefers to take your electric toothbrush with you, you’ll have a better idea as to how long the battery will last if you try this option once in a while. 

Even though electric toothbrush batteries usually can’t get overcharged—some of them have built in cut-offs to prevent that from happening—you might notice them feeling warmer than normal if they’ve been charging for a very long time. 

How Do I Know When The Batteries Are Charged?

Some of the newer or nicer toothbrushes typically have a built-in light that shows when your toothbrush battery is charging. The light or sensor may change from blinking to solid, or orange to green, once the battery is fully charged. This design will fluctuate from one model to the next. Others might not have any built-in sensors at all. 

If you charge your brush for a full day, you’re usually as charged as you’re going to get. If it’s not holding a long enough charge for you to brush your teeth even once, there probably isn’t a good connection or your toothbrush is going bad. For brushes with removable batteries, this is the time to swap them out with new ones. 

Can You Replace Your Toothbrush Batteries?

Toothbrushes that use regular or removable rechargeable batteries can always have their batteries changed out. Simply open or unscrew the brush handle as directed, remove the old batteries, and replace them with new ones. Be sure to check for any residue that needs to be cleaned away, which might get in the way of the sensors. 

Electric toothbrushes that have internal batteries cannot have the battery replaced. If you were to open the brush up to attempt to remove the battery, you wouldn’t be able to get it back together at all. It would literally destroy the brush in the process. Fortunately, most of these brushes can last for several years (you’re changing out the brush heads regularly, remember) so you don’t need to worry about buying a new one every year. Normally they come with some type of a limited warranty, so if your brush isn’t holding a charge and it’s still fairly new, talk to the manufacturer about a replacement. 

How To Charge An Electric Toothbrush Without A Charger

What happens if you’re traveling and forget your toothbrush charger? Can you charge it? Although I wouldn’t recommend swapping out different types of toothbrush chargers with different devices (the wattage and delivery methods could blow your warranty) there are some known cases where people have powered their Sonicare brush with their Apple Watch charger. But don’t freak out just yet. Your brush probably has a good few days’ worth of use left in it, so you can continue to use it without charging it. Or worst case scenario, you use it manually until you get back home. 

If you’ve lost your charging base for good, you can get a replacement one online. 

Electric Toothbrush Charging Recap

Electric toothbrush charging is easy and can be an everyday thing without worrying about overcharging or undercharging your brush. The typical toothbrush needs 12-24 hours before it’s fully charged. If you have a brush with removable batteries, you can also use rechargeable regular batteries if you prefer not to buy new ones every month. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and never, ever experiment with electricity!

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