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Cat with clean teeth

The essentials

  • Cat teeth cleaning can range from $200 to $1,500 — However, anesthesia, additional sedatives, pain medication, dental X-rays, extractions, and treatments are additional costs.
  • The frequency of cat dental cleanings varies — Cats can develop gingivitis, periodontal disease, and other oral health problems if plaque isn’t removed regularly by a professional, so cats should see the vet once a year for a wellness exam.
  • Keep your cat’s teeth clean between vet visits — Your cat still needs professional teeth cleanings, but be sure to routinely clean your cat’s teeth at home.

The average vet visit for a cat’s dental cleaning can cost anywhere from $200 to $1,500 but could amount to more depending on the state of your pet’s oral health.

In this guide, we’ll cover cat dental cleaning 101: what affects cost, how often you should schedule cleanings, and how to keep your kitty’s breath fresh in between dental visits.

Factors that affect the cost of cat dental care

Routine cat teeth cleaning costs are generally inexpensive; unless a cat has significant dental disease, needs numerous extractions — these cost about $50 per tooth on average — or needs extra care to stay comfortable during cleaning.

Some of the most common factors affecting the cost of a cat dental cleaning include:

  • Who’s conducting your cat’s teeth cleaning. A general practitioner will cost less than a board-certified veterinary dentist giving a professional dental cleaning.
  • The extent of the procedure. If all your cat needs is a simple tartar scraping, you’ll be looking at lower costs than if they need more dental work like extractions.
  • Pre-cleaning prep. Some vet clinics require full X-rays and tests before they proceed with teeth cleaning. This can add a few dollars onto your bill.
  • Extras. If anesthesia, additional sedatives, X-rays, IV fluids, or take-home medications are needed, this can also drive up the total cost of cleaning your cat’s teeth.
  • Anesthesia. This is necessary for all cat dental cleanings. Much dental disease takes place below the gumline and it’s not possible to conduct a proper cleaning or give X-rays without anesthesia.
  • Age and health of the cat. Older cats are more likely to have an excessive amount of plaque buildup, as well as other health issues which can cause the cost to spike.
  • The severity of the dental disease. Regardless of age, if the cat’s teeth are in bad condition and have deteriorated significantly, more work will need to be done — which means more fees.
  • Geographic location of the clinic. Where you live will drive the cost up or down due to cost of living differences.

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 before your pet’s teeth cleaning appointment.

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, beginning the thorough cleaning and inspection process. Common steps to expect during the cleaning include:

  • Anesthesia. Cats need anesthesia for all dental care appointments. For simple cleanings, for example a light amount of anesthesia is used to keep the cat asleep, comfortable, and safe — while also keeping the vet safe.
  • Plaque removal. Once the cat is asleep, the vet will scale the pet’s teeth to remove plaque and tartar on the teeth, and under the gum line.
  • Tooth polishing. They’ll then polish 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, feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions , and tooth mobility.
  • X-rays. The vet might then perform X-rays to check for underlying problems below the gums and around the tooth roots — such as tooth root abscesses.
  • 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 — such as extracting damaged or diseased teeth.
    • If X-rays and additional treatments are needed, the cleaning may take as little as an hour or far more if there are significant dental issues.

You should schedule professional teeth cleaning for your cat on an as-needed basis. During your cat’s yearly wellness exam, a vet will determine if a dental cleaning is necessary.

👉 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 or while an animal is awake. Vets will also have the training to spot early signs of disease and begin any treatments.

Why your cat’s dental health matters

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.

🚨 Cats are prone to the buildup of tartar and plaque on the teeth as well as feline odontoclastic resorption lesions. Serious dental issues like periodontal disease or gingivitis can happen, and require extra dental care that can cost some serious cash. 

The average cost of these common dental issues includes:

  • Tooth extraction – $50 to $200
  • Tooth root abscess – $300 to $2,000
  • Periodontal disease – $500 to $800
  • Gingivitis – $50 to $300

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, oral bacteria can enter a cat’s bloodstream, affecting other organs such as the heart, liver, and kidneys.

The price can also range depending on the tooth and number of roots. Regular wellness checkups and dental exams can help with preventative care. If you find yourself in a situation where your cat has a significant dental health issue, it’s always a good idea to consult your pet insurance to see what expenses might be covered.

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:

  • 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.
  • Dental chews. If your cat loves treats, you can give them dental chews to help improve oral health. Look for the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) Registered Seal like Royal Canin Treats or Hill’s Prescription Dental Care chews to ensure your cat is getting safe (and delicious) yums.
  • Dental diets. While this is no replacement for brushing your cat’s teeth or taking them for professional teeth cleanings, kibble like Hill’s Prescription cat food or Tiki Cat Born Carnivore may help remove some plaque as the kibble pieces come in contact with the teeth.
  • 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 such as Healthymouth® Water Additive or Healthymouth® Topical Gel for cats. Dental powder containing probiotics, such as ProDen PlaqueOff Powder can be sprinkled into meals to help the healthy bacteria in the mouth flourish.
  • 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.

Just like people, cats need regular dental care. The good news is that if you keep up with your cat’s routine dental health, this helps control the cost of future dental procedures and keeps your feline happy and healthy for the long run.

Frequently asked questions

How often do cats need their teeth cleaned?

On average, cats should have a preventative teeth cleaning every one to two years. This helps control tartar build-up and prevent problems.

Can a cat’s teeth be cleaned without anesthesia?

No. This is not a veterinary recommendation as it’s not possible to clean, examine the teeth, perform x-rays, or extractions without anesthesia. Much dental disease takes place below the gumline and would be missed without a proper cleaning. Cleaning a cat’s teeth without anethesia would also be traumatic for cats.

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 every year or two.

How much will it cost to get my cat’s teeth cleaned?

Vet visits for routine cat teeth cleanings may cost $200 to $1,500.. Severe dental disease in a cat’s mouth can 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 can also affect the cost of a dental procedure.

Why is cat teeth cleaning so expensive?

Cat teeth cleaning cost can range from $200-$1,500 on average and can be effected by a variety of factors like the state of your cat’s dental health and if extras like IV fluids or Xrays are needed.

Is anesthesia safe for my cat during teeth cleaning?

Anesthesia is generally considered to be safe and is recommended for cats undergoing a cleaning if they are in good health.

The anesthesia helps minimize any stress or pain for the cat during the cleaning. It also keeps them from biting the hygienist or vet, and damaging expensive equipment, while they check the gums and teeth.

If you’re concerned about the use of anesthesia for your pet during a procedure, connect with your veterinarian. They can answer any questions you might have about anesthesia safety and your cat’s health.