While all owners should learn how to brush a cat's teeth and tend to their pet's oral health at home, preventive care can only go so far in warding off dangerous dental disease.
It's true that routinely brushing cats' teeth is immensely helpful for keeping harmful bacteria at bay. However, you'll also need to pay for the cost of dental cleanings at the vet throughout your feline's life to address those hard-to-reach areas and correct damage that may have already occurred.
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If you're looking for an estimate on how much it costs to get your cat's teeth cleaned, we've outlined average expenses in our price guide below. We'll go over the common costs you might incur during a cat dental cleaning, different price variables that make the procedure more or less expensive, and how you can offset steep vet bills for dental work through pet insurance coverage.
Like humans, cats need routine teeth cleanings to avoid dental issues and maintain good oral health. Otherwise, your cat risks developing a dental disease due to poor oral hygiene, which can cause pain, discomfort, nutritional deficiencies, and may even be life-threatening if left untreated.
The most common dental issue in cats is periodontal disease, in which the gum tissue supporting the tooth structure becomes infected with bacteria, resulting in several adverse consequences.
Periodontal disease in cats affects as many as 85% of felines by the age of two, underscoring the importance of routine dental care. Even though you may brush your cat’s teeth at home, professional dental cleanings are still necessary for the removal of plaque buildup below the gum line.
A professional cat dental cleaning typically costs anywhere from $100 to $400 but could amount a thousand dollars or more depending on the state of your pet’s oral health. For instance, your veterinarian may recommend tooth extractions during the procedure, which cost about $50 on average. The price of anesthesia, intravenous fluid, and take-home medications can all increase the total cost of cleaning your cat’s teeth.
$100 - $400
Average cost of cat dental cleaning
Other variables that impact cat dental cleaning costs include:
In contrast to dental cleaning in people, cats are put under anesthesia while their teeth are scraped and cleaned both above and below the gum line with specialized tools. Here’s what else the cost of cat dental cleaning may include.
Dental anesthesia is essential for comprehensive and thorough teeth cleaning. It is generally thought to be safe and has a rapid recovery period when necessary precautions are taken. In fact, the risk of an anesthetic death in cats is only 0.24%.
Your veterinarian will decide which form of anesthetic to employ based on their experience and your cat.
For a safe and effective procedure, all cats require anesthesia during veterinary dental cleanings. Though anesthetics will increase the total cost to clean your cat's teeth, sedating your pet is worth the additional expense for the sake of your their health, comfort, and well-being.
Not only is it traumatic and stressful for cats to remain concious while undergoing invasive and at-times uncomfortable dental work, but it also presents a safety hazard for the veterinary dentist performing the procedure, as a conscious animal would not allow a veterinarian to prod around their mouth with dental instruments.
You may see businesses offer cheap cat teeth cleanings without anesthesia, also known as nonanesthetic dentistry (NAD) or anesthesia-free dentistry, in which the teeth are scaled and polished without the use of sedatives, tranquilizers or anesthetics. However, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) does not recommend cat dental cleanings without anesthesia because they do not allow for inspection or treatment below the gumline and therefore provides minimal health benefits to pets.
The majority of cats awaken from anesthesia 15 to 20 minutes following the treatment. After a few hours of comfortable rest for additional monitoring, they typically return home the same day.
The procedure begins with the administration of propofol or telazol to the animal, after which the veterinarian or veterinary technician will attach your pet to the anesthetic machine. Throughout the procedure, the technician will assist the veterinarian in keeping an eye on the monitors and the oxygen feed to ensure everything is going well.
The vet will then carry out a comprehensive oral examination, checking each tooth for abrasion, discoloration, fractures, and other conditions.
After the oral examination, the veterinarian will start cleaning below the gum line, where gingivitis and periodontitis begin to develop when a buildup of plaque and germs becomes excessive.
After cleaning the inner portions of the gums, your vet will use specialized scaling instruments to scrape at the tartar and plaque buildup on the crowns of your cat's teeth
Once your veterinarian has completed scaling, they will polish your cat’s teeth to help prevent the accumulation of plaque and bacteria. The cleaning procedure will be finished after the polishing is done.
The entire dental cleaning procedure normally lasts 45 to 75 minutes. The actual dental cleaning only takes 15 to 30 minutes, but additional time is required for anesthetia, oral exam, procedure set up, and post-op recovery.
Some cats could feel a little pain from having plaque or tartar removed, and some might feel drowsy from the anesthetic and the day's activities. Antibiotics and/or painkillers may be prescribed for continued use at home, depending on the state of the patient's dental health and the treatments used.
Cats should have professional teeth cleaning at least once a year to remove plaque and tartar buildup, regardless of their breed, size, and age (even 15-year-old cats should have their teeth cleaned). If your feline friend has more serious dental problems, like periodontitis, more frequent cleanings might be required.
In order to ensure good dental health, cat owners should wash their pets’ teeth regularly with a cat-approved toothpaste and toothbrush. Though daily tooth brushing is ideal, even a few times a week can make a difference.
If you observe persistently bad breath, unusual chewing, loose or broken teeth, drooling, bleeding, tooth decay, or any other symptoms of discomfort or pain, be sure to have your pet's mouth examined by a veterinarian.
Expect to pay around $300 for a professional cat dental cleaning that involves general anesthesia, a preliminary exam with X-rays, and follow-up care. If your pet's oral health is in great condition, then a routine cleaning could cost much less. If your cat has gum disease or requires tooth extraction(s), the price could easily double or triple depending on your location.
Getting your cat's teeth cleaned is definitely worth the cost, because dental disease can be very painful and lead to secondary, more severe health implications beyond your pet’s mouth. An infection that starts as gingivitis can enter the animal’s bloodstream and spread to the liver, kidney, and heart. The annual cost of a cat dental cleaning is a lot more affordable than the price of treating a fatal systemic infection.
Some pet insurance providers cover routine teeth cleanings under their wellness coverage, which is an additional policy that can be purchased in addition to their regular pet health insurance policy. Pet insurance companies vary in the type of dental coverage they provide, so make sure to use Pawlicy Advisor to compare different plans and find the best option for your feline friend.
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Lila Batiari, DVM is a relief veterinarian located in San Diego, California. She has a special interest in nutrition, pain management, and surgery! Dr. Batiari enjoys working with Pawlicy Advisor to help others avoid everyday situations that some of her clientele experience. She realizes that expensive vet bills for treatment costs could be much easier for patients with pet insurance.