- Teeth cleaning can range from $200 to $1,500 — Anesthesia, additional sedatives, pain medication, dental X-rays, extractions, and treatments can increase the cost.
- Schedule dental cleanings every year — Cats can develop gingivitis, periodontal disease, and other oral health problems if plaque isn’t removed regularly by a professional.
- Keep your cat’s teeth clean between vet visits — Your cat still needs professional teeth cleanings each year, but there are ways to keep your kitty’s teeth clean year-round from home.
Your cat’s bad breath isn’t always due to fish-flavored kitty food. Cats, like humans, are susceptible to oral health problems like gingivitis without regular checkups and care. That’s why it’s important to have your cat’s teeth cleaned regularly. But, before making an appointment, you should prepare to face the sometimes-high cost of cat dental cleanings.
How much does cat teeth cleaning cost?
An average vet visit for a cat’s dental cleaning can cost $200 to $1,500, depending upon the level of dental disease within a cat’s mouth. The dental procedure will cost much less for a cat that needs a routine cleaning versus one with significant dental disease or in need of numerous extractions. Even the location of the clinic and the clinic itself can cause differences in cost. Also, you may pay less depending on what your pet insurance covers. Cat teeth cleanings are expensive because they use anesthesia, which is important for the cat’s and the vet’s safety. Additional sedatives, X-rays, extractions, or other treatments will cost more.
Reasons why cats need their teeth cleaned
You care for your teeth, and you should be taking care of your cat’s teeth and gums, too. Cats are prone to the buildup of tartar and plaque on the teeth and under the gumline. If plaque and tartar aren’t removed regularly, it can cause serious dental issues. These include gingival recession, tooth mobility, tooth root abscesses, periodontal disease and gingivitis.
Your cat could experience oral pain, inflammation, infections, tooth decay, or tooth and bone loss as a result of missed cleaning appointments. In extreme cases, plaque and other oral bacteria can enter a cat’s bloodstream, affecting other organs such as the heart, liver, and kidneys.
What to expect during a cat’s dental cleaning
At your cat’s annual teeth cleaning, the vet may start with a quick examination before administering anesthesia and beginning the thorough cleaning and inspection. Common steps to expect include:
- Anesthesia. For any cat’s teeth cleaning appointment, they will need anesthesia. For simple cleanings, this is a light amount of anesthesia used to keep the cat asleep, comfortable, and safe while also keeping the vet safe.
- Plaque removal. The vet will scale the teeth to remove plaque and tartar on the teeth and under the gumline.
- Tooth polishing. Polishing the teeth will help create a smooth surface, making it harder for plaque to form again on the teeth.
- Inspection. Now, the vet will use a periodontal probe to check around the gums for diseases, such as gingival pockets, root exposure, and tooth mobility.
- X-rays. The vet may perform X-rays to check for underlying problems below the gums and around the tooth roots, such as tooth root abscesses and oral masses.
- Additional treatments. If the vet notices signs of decay, disease, or other dental health problems, they may perform additional treatments as needed during the cleaning. If X-rays and additional treatments are needed, the cleaning may take about 1 hour.
You should schedule professional teeth cleaning for your cat about once per year. While you can do checks on your own to look for signs of problems at home, a veterinarian has special tools that can remove buildup that you can’t safely remove on your own. Vets will also have the training to spot early signs of disease and begin any treatments.
Does pet insurance cover cat dental cleanings?
General anesthesia and any necessary treatments can make teeth cleaning for cats seem expensive for pet parents. Unfortunately, even if you have pet insurance for your cat, insurance may not cover preventative teeth cleanings, unless you have a wellness plan add-on. Be sure to check with your provider on what your insurance plan covers, and add dental care coverage before your cat’s next teeth cleaning appointment.
If you’re looking for more coverage for your pet, consider Fetch by The Dodo. Fetch offers the most comprehensive coverage in the U.S. and covers things many other providers don’t. It also includes comprehensive (full-mouth) dental coverage in case of emergencies with your pet’s teeth.
How to maintain your cat’s teeth between cleanings
Don’t rely just on the annual teeth cleaning appointment to keep your cat’s teeth and gums in good health. Make sure to consider these additional oral care steps at home between cleanings.
- Try finger brushing. Brush your cat’s teeth at home once a day with a finger brush. If you use toothpaste, make sure it is a product made specifically for cats. Human toothpaste may contain ingredients harmful to your furry friend.
- Give dental chews. If your cat loves treats, give them dental chews to help improve oral health. Look for the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) Registered Seal.
- Opt for a dry kibble diet. Dry kibble is no replacement for brushing your cat’s teeth or taking them for professional teeth cleanings. But it may help remove some plaque as the kibble pieces come in contact with the teeth.
- Use gels, water additives, or probiotics. You probably give your mouth a refreshing rinse with mouthwash after brushing your teeth. For cats, you can use gels or water additives for a similar effect. Dental powder containing probiotics, such as Perio Support, can be sprinkled into meals to help the healthy bacteria in the mouth flourish.
- Research prescription dental diets. Specific formulas like Hill’s Science Diet t/d, Royal Canin Dental Diet, or Purina ProPlan Veterinary Diet can help with dental health.
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Frequently asked questions
Do I need to get my cat’s teeth cleaned?
Even if your cat is in good health, don’t skip their teeth cleaning appointment. These dental checkups will allow the vet to look for any early signs of oral health problems, such as gingivitis or periodontal disease. You should plan to get your cat’s teeth cleaned about once a year.
How much will it cost to get my cat’s teeth cleaned?
Vet visits for cat teeth cleanings may cost $200 to $1,500, with routine teeth cleanings costing about $300. Severe dental disease in a cat’s mouth will cause the cost to go up as it will take longer to clean the teeth under anesthesia and extract any diseased teeth. The clinic location, whether you have insurance that covers teeth cleanings, and any treatments your cat may need for periodontal disease will also affect the cost of a dental procedure.
Why is cat teeth cleaning so expensive?
Your annual dental checkup may be low-cost or even free. But, you might experience some sticker shock when you get the vet bill for your cat’s teeth cleaning. The higher cost is often because vets need to use anesthesia to thoroughly check the cat’s teeth and gums.
Is anesthesia safe for my cat during teeth cleaning?
Anesthesia is safe and recommended for cats undergoing a cleaning. This is true as long as a cat is deemed healthy during a physical exam and has normal blood work results. The anesthesia helps minimize any stress or pain for the cat during the cleaning. It also keeps them from biting the hygienist or vet while they check the gums and teeth.