Although many people get their dog’s teeth cleaned routinely, many people don’t think to have this service done for their cat. Cats tend to be clean animals, and bad breath isn’t as noticeable in many cats as it is in most dogs, so many people just don’t think that their cat needs a dental cleaning. However, dental health is just as important for cats as it is for dogs and humans.
The Importance of Feline Dental Health
Dental disease in cats can lead to bleeding gums, tooth loss, poor appetite, weight loss, infections, and even permanent organ damage. Having your cat’s teeth checked by a veterinarian at least annually is ideal, and dental cleanings may need to start being performed routinely as well. Your vet will be able to give you guidance about how frequently your cat needs its teeth cleaned, as the need varies from cat to cat.
If you are able, introducing your cat to tooth brushing at a young age can help make the procedure more tolerable for your cat at home. This may allow you to prolong the need for your cat to have a professional dental cleaning. However, tooth brushing is not a complete replacement for a professional dental cleaning under sedation.
How Much Does Professional Cat Teeth Cleaning Cost?
The price of your cat’s dental cleaning can vary based on your cat’s age and dental needs. Many vets prefer to run pre-op lab work on cats before sedation to ensure they are healthy enough for anesthesia, and professional dental cleaning is a sedative procedure.
You should expect to spend close to $200 on your cat’s dental cleaning—although this will vary based on the area you live in. If your cat has dental disease or damaged teeth, requiring a more invasive cleaning or tooth removals, then you will likely spend at least $400. Some cat dental cleaning can reach as high as $800!
Many vet clinics offer discounted dental cleanings at various points throughout the year, like in February, which is Dental Month. Talk to your vet to see what discounted dental options they offer.
Additional Costs to Anticipate
There are multiple additional costs that can come up when your cat has a dental cleaning performed. If your cat is not up to date on their vaccines, these will likely be required. Pre-op lab work may be built into the price of the dental cleaning, but you should always verify this with your veterinarian’s staff rather than assuming. For older cats or cats with health issues, your vet may place an IV catheter and provide fluids, medications, and electrolytes throughout the procedure, which will all be additional charges. IV catheters, fluids, and medications can range from a few dollars to $50 per item or more.
If your vet gets into your cat’s mouth and determines there is moderate to severe dental disease, then tooth extractions may need to occur, which will be added to the baseline dental price. Sometimes, x-rays of the head and mouth are needed to verify the health and stability of the jaw and other bones in the face. X-rays alone could add $75 or more onto your cat’s dental cost.
How Often Should I Have My Cat’s Teeth Cleaned?
Kittens do not require dental cleanings since they are just developing their adult teeth. Adult cats may start needing dental cleanings as young as 1–2 years of age, although this is more common in cats that are prone to dental problems. Most cats won’t need their first dental cleaning until they are 4–6 years old. Your vet will be able to provide this guidance to you when you take your cat in for their annual exam, during which they will need a dental exam performed.
Depending on the state of your cat’s teeth and gums, they may need a dental cleaning between every 6 months to 2 years. If you notice bleeding from the mouth or gums, poor appetite, difficulty eating, or broken teeth, then you should have your cat seen as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment. Dental disease can be painful for your cat, and painful cats can develop other problems related to stress and not eating or drinking enough.
Does Pet Insurance Cover Cat Teeth Cleaning?
Most pet insurance companies will cover your cat’s dental procedure, including any extra charges associated with the visit, like tooth extractions and xrays. However, you should check with your pet insurance company before the procedure to verify your coverage. Depending on your policy, the dental may still be quite expensive out of pocket for you. By verifying your policy’s coverage, you may be able to save yourself some time and money. For most pet insurances, you will need to pay for the procedure out of pocket and they will reimburse you the money covered by your policy.
What To Do For Your Cat’s Teeth In Between Cleanings?
If you are able to brush your cat’s teeth with a cat-safe toothpaste, you should do so at least a couple of times per week. However, many cats are not cooperative for this, so you may have to train your cat to tolerate it or work to find a toothpaste they love the taste of.
Dental chews and treats are a good way to help keep your cat’s teeth clean between dental cleanings. Some dental chews and treats work by knocking plaque off of your cat’s teeth, while others may contain enzymes or other products that help break down plaque that is beginning to build up on the teeth. These products, along with tooth brushing, can be extremely beneficial, but they are not a replacement for a routine dental cleaning.
Dental cleanings for cats are very underutilized due to a lack of knowledge, but they are very important and can be extremely beneficial to the health of your cat. Make sure your cat’s vet is examining their mouth annually, which may require brief sedation for some cats. The vet will be able to give you solid guidance and help you create a dental plan for your cat. This type of plan will help keep your cat’s teeth and body healthy for as long as possible.
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