Does Pet Insurance Cover Dental Costs?

When your pet has a dental injury or illness, pet insurance can reduce the cost of treatment and protect your budget.

Dog and cat
Updated May 13, 2024
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Good dental hygiene is as important for pets as it is for humans — possibly even more. Although you may have trained your pet to sit or stay, training them to brush their teeth after every meal is another thing entirely. Regular teeth cleaning is one way pet owners take care of their pet's dental health, but dental procedures can be expensive. So pet owners often turn to pet insurance that covers dental to eliminate or reduce this out-of-pocket expense.

Although you may own pet insurance to cover many of your pet's medical needs, not every policy includes dental procedures. If you’re interested in this type of coverage, it’s a good idea to review multiple policies to compare premiums, benefits, and coverage limits. This information can help you make an informed decision about whether to buy a policy that includes dental costs or pay for those costs out of pocket.

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Pet dental costs: What you need to know

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some form of periodontal disease by the time they turn three years old. When thinking about your pet's dental costs, the effort you put into their dental health can help keep the costs down.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to fighting gum disease, gingivitis, and tartar. But even with that effort, you should understand the costs of maintaining their health (teeth cleaning) and the consequences if problems arise, like extractions and root canals.

Should your pet's teeth be cleaned?

Although some pet-friendly toothpaste, a toothbrush, and dental treats can reduce plaque and tartar issues, most pets also need periodic teeth cleaning, just as humans do. The best way to keep your pet's mouth healthy is to take them to the vet for routine preventive dental cleanings.

Not only will your pet's teeth be cleaned at this time, but this also gives your vet an opportunity to inspect their mouth for medical problems before they become something major.

How much does a dental cleaning cost?

The cost of taking care of your pet's routine dental care can vary widely based on certain factors. These factors include where you live, the age of your pet, and its overall dental and physical health. Additionally, prices also vary among the veterinarians in your community, so be sure to shop around.

On average, a dog's dental cleaning costs between $300 and $700. This does not include special treatments for periodontal disease, extractions, or other procedures. The cost can also vary widely, depending on the factors mentioned above.

You might wonder why the costs are so high. A pet teeth cleaning isn't a basic procedure like it is for you and me. Because pets will not sit and watch TV while the doctor performs the cleaning, anesthesia is typically used to put the dog or cat to sleep for x-rays and professional cleaning.

Although pet teeth cleaning is generally not covered by pet insurance, you may be able to purchase coverage as an add-on to your policy. Plus, the problems found during the oral exams can be a major hit to your wallet. This is one of the many reasons pet owners believe that pet insurance is worth it.

What other pet dental procedures might be needed?

To keep your pet healthy, other dental procedures may be required during its lifetime. Here are some sample costs:

  • Basic tooth extraction: $10 to $15 per tooth
  • Elevated tooth extraction: $25 to $35 per tooth
  • Drilling for teeth with multiple roots: Up to $100 per tooth
  • Root canal: $1,000 to $3,000

As you can see, dental work can get expensive in a hurry, depending on your pet's dental needs. Pet insurance can potentially help to pay for emergency vet bills when your pet has a dental injury or illness.

Some veterinarians bill a flat rate for a certain type of procedure, whereas others bill an hourly rate. This is something that should be discussed with your veterinarian before scheduling an appointment. If you're not comfortable with the costs, discuss options with your veterinarian. Or you can seek a second opinion from a different vet. They may be lower-priced or offer alternative treatments.

Which pet insurance covers dental costs?

There are a number of pet insurance plans you can purchase to cover your pet's medical and dental needs. Below are a few of the insurers that we've reviewed for pet insurance, some of whom make our best pet insurance list, that covers dental procedures.

PetPlan

With PetPlan pet insurance, comprehensive dental coverage is automatically included in your policy with no broad exclusions. Dental benefits cover dental injury and dental disease to all of your pet's teeth, not just the canines. However, dental cleanings are not included.

Upon enrollment, there is a 15-day illness coverage waiting period before benefits kick in. This pet insurance policy allows you to visit any vet, then file a claim for reimbursement by submitting photos of important documents related to your pet's care.

Nationwide

Nationwide insurance agency is a popular name in home, auto, and life insurance; and it also offers pet insurance that covers dental procedures. Its pet insurance policies allow you to use any veterinarian, emergency clinic, or specialist. Policies include wellness visit and covers both dental surgeries and diseases. However, teeth cleaning is not included in your benefits.

Pet owners have a $250 annual deductible and there is a 10% co-pay that applies. Plus, there is a 14-day waiting period for "Whole Pet with Wellness" and "Major Medical" plans that start once your application is approved and payment is made.

Embrace

Embrace Pet Insurance is underwritten by American Modern Insurance Group. It offers a flexible wellness plan with coverage for exam fees and a diminishing deductible after a 14-day waiting period.

Its dental coverage covers treatments up to $1,000 per year for accidents and illnesses, including extractions, illness, root canals, and crowns. Routine dental care, such as teeth cleaning, is not included in its policies. However, pet owners can be reimbursed through Wellness Rewards, an add-on to the policy.


ASPCA

ASPCA pet insurance allows pet owners to choose any veterinarian, specialist, or clinic and will reimburse up to 90% of the bill. After a 14-day waiting period, your pet will be covered for exam fees, injuries, illnesses, and dental illnesses. Although teeth cleaning is not included in the base pet insurance plan, you can add it to your policy.

VCA Care Club

VCA has more than 1,000 neighborhood hospitals and 6,000 veterinarians across the U.S. This veterinary group offers its own brand of insurance for customers called the VCA Care Club. This pet insurance includes unlimited exams and includes add-ons like dental, spay or neuter, and more for one monthly fee. Our family uses VCA, and our pets get complimentary teeth cleaning once every 12 months.

FAQs

Does every pet insurance plan cover dental?

No, not every pet insurance plan offers dental benefits. Of those that do include dental coverage, the benefits vary, so it pays to compare policies before making a purchase. For example, most pet insurance companies do not cover teeth cleaning, and some may offer accident-only insurance coverage.

Will pet insurance cover pre-existing dental conditions?

Pet insurance providers do not cover pre-existing conditions if the pet is still exhibiting symptoms or taking medication for the problem. For conditions where your pet has been cured, some policies may cover the pre-existing condition. As long as the pet has gone 12 months without symptoms or treatments, it may be considered cured. For instance, if your pet gets a urinary tract infection and recovers, treatment for the same condition could potentially be covered in the future.

Even if your pet insurance does not cover the pre-existing condition, your pet could still benefit. The other benefits and coverages of the policy apply to situations that are not related to the pre-existing condition.

What's the best pet insurance for dental coverage?

The best pet health insurance for dental coverage varies based on your personal circumstances. This includes where you live, what kind of pet you have, and the options you are looking for.

One of the best policies is offered by Embrace Pet Insurance. It offers a diminishing deductible, coverage for curable pre-existing conditions after 12 months, and dental coverage up to $1,000 per year. Additionally, it includes dental treatment coverage for extractions, dental illness, root canals, and crowns.

The bottom line

Pet insurance can be a smart way to reduce the costs of owning a pet. It is important that you have pet insurance that covers dental checkups so you do not receive a surprise bill if your pet has a dental injury or illness. There are many pet insurance policies available, so read our guide about how pet insurance works to get a better understanding of the pros and cons of each.

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Author Details

Lee Huffman

Lee Huffman is a former financial planner and corporate finance manager who now writes about early retirement, credit cards, travel, insurance, and other personal finance topics. He enjoys showing people how to travel more, spend less, and live better. When Lee is not getting his passport stamped around the world, he's researching methods to earn more miles and points toward his next vacation.