Oral health is a never-ending routine. Toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, and dental floss are our teeth’s best friends. We have to shuffle between them at least twice a day to prevent any cavities, tartar development, teeth and gum diseases, and to maintain a fresh breath. It also takes about two yearly trips to the dentist’s office to make sure everything is in order.
Now, imagine what happens in a dog’s mouth that hasn’t had its teeth cleaned for a couple of years. Yes, cats and dogs too have a full set of teeth that need maintaining, even more than us humans (dogs have 42 of them!), and they can go bad as easily as ours if left untreated.
While it’s true that canines and felines can go long periods without any dental hygiene and still maintain decent oral health, sooner or later, they show symptoms of teeth damage or disease.
Understandably, they do need professional care for their teeth and mouth, just like we do, so they can enjoy their food and play without any pain throughout their entire adulthood.
However, pet dental care can be as expensive as human’s, if not more.
The best and safest solution to this problem is, of course, pet dental insurance.
The Most Common Dental Problems That Pets Face
Armoring yourself with a pet dental policy will take away most of the stress when your kitten or doggo whines because of a toothache. Or it can be something else. There are dozens of reasons why your pet “child” might experience pain and discomfort in the oral cavity.
Here, we’ll explore the most common issues that affect cats’ and dogs’ dental health.
Plaque is the number one culprit for major teeth and gum diseases. Just like it develops in humans, plaque forms around the gums of pets from stuff like food and treats, but more so from toys and other foreign objects since they aren’t clean enough and contain lots of bacteria.
Plaque can be easily removed by brushing the pet’s teeth or by chewing toys designed for plaque removal. However, if left untreated, it can turn into tartar which has to be professionally removed under general anesthesia.
If tartar is left to linger for a long time, it can spread under the gum line, causing infections to the gum and teeth, and ultimately entering the bloodstream. This can be pretty serious as it can affect the pet’s heart, kidneys, and liver.
Plaque can be a very hospitable environment for bacteria which can quickly develop gum disease. This disease can develop through two stages, the first of which is gingivitis. This stage manifests with inflammation and swelling of the gums that line the teeth.
Gingivitis is common with both cats and dogs (especially bulldogs, terriers, and pugs) and most apparent around the age of two. It doesn’t affect the bones and ligaments, but can be very painful to the pet.
Thorough teeth cleaning is crucial to preventing or reversing gingivitis.
If gingivitis isn’t stopped until it’s too late, it can develop into stage two of gum disease – periodontitis. It happens when the gum, bone, and ligament tissue is infected and inflamed, which results in tooth decay and tooth loss.
The periodontal disease affects smaller breeds aged around four to six. Sadly, it’s a permanent condition that’s extremely hard to reverse and most often results in teeth extractions.
To ease the symptoms and bost a slight recovery, tooth brushing, ointments, and a diet consisting of hard kibble is recommended, as it helps to clean the pet’s teeth.
Nationwide claims that periodontal condition is the top oral disease for both cats and dogs.
Facial and Jaw Trauma
Pets, especially dogs, are known to be playful and careless and often end up injured as a consequence. Fighting with other pets, reckless falling, or car accidents are the usual reasons many pets end up with fractured and chipped teeth, broken and dislocated jaw, or fractured facial bones.
Your pet might be more susceptible to facial trauma if they had underlying periodontitis which can weaken and damage the bone tissue, making it more fragile.
Moderate and severe facial injuries require emergency veterinary treatment. Crown placements, teeth extractions, and root canal treatments are some of the procedures a doctor may perform on your pet under general anesthesia to make sure their injuries heal properly.
Benign Oral Neoplasia
Benign oral neoplasia is a type of oral tumor that isn’t life-threatening if treated properly. It affects more dogs than cats and creates eating difficulties while causing pain and discomfort.
Oral tumors should be immediately dealt with – veterinarians remove them surgically, in that way substantially prolonging the pet’s life.
This condition is seminal to gingivitis in a way that it’s an inflammation of the gum lining in the mouth. However, it’s more serious than gingivitis since it affects the entire mouth, not only the gums lining the teeth.
It can be awfully painful to the pet, making it restless, depressed, even aggressive. Ultimately, they can become unable to chew because of severe irritation, that’s why paying your vet a visit when you notice something like this is crucial.
Sometimes referred to as endodontic disease, pulpitis is a dental pulp tissue infection. It happens because of cavities or trauma to the jaw.
You surely have felt it yourself. When the pulp of a tooth is inflamed there is usually an unbearable pain that persists until you can’t take it anymore and decide you no longer fear the dentist.
Your pet can’t tell that they’re experiencing pulpitis, that’s why you always have to read the signs. They can whine, become moody and easily irritated, and sometimes ignore your presence. That’s when you know it’s time to take them to the vet clinic.
Some conditions that affect your pet’s oral health might be hereditary. They don’t impose an immediate threat to their wellbeing but might create pain, discomfort, and limit the mouth and teeth functionality.
Additionally, these developmental abnormalities can make the above-mentioned conditions occur faster and aid their progress.
Here, we’re mentioning the three most common abnormalities that affect cats and dogs:
Some pet breeds are prone to having teeth stuck under the gumline, unable to erupt like the rest of the normal teeth. They can push and twist the other teeth above them and create problems in the pet’s mouth.
Over time, pets might become unable to chew properly and develop cysts and ulcers. Extracting these embedded teeth is recommended to prevent further damage to the jaw.
Dog breeds that can develop this condition more often include bulldogs, Boston terriers, pugs, and maltese.
While pets are only babies and their teeth are still in development, several factors can cause the teeth’s enamel levels to drop and damage the outer protective layer of the teeth. Enamel deficiency can be caused by malnutrition, infection, trauma, or premature birth.
Pets with this condition face problems related to pulpitis and teeth infections which should be dealt with on time.
There are many reasons for your pet to develop inadequate bite (malocclusion) which can affect their mood and how they eat. Among them, the most common are delayed teeth, extra or fewer teeth, rotated or incorrectly positioned teeth, underbite, and overbite.
All of the above can cause crowding and twisting of the teeth which make it difficult for pets to eat and drink.
Again, this condition is mostly present in dogs, with predisposed breeds including collies, bulldogs, boxers, maltese, pugs, and terriers.
Pet Dental Treatment Costs
Dental treatments for pets can easily cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars if the procedure is a complex one.
An anesthetic is almost always needed when treating canine or feline dental needs, which adds up a couple of hundreds to your vet bill as well.
X-rays are another usual addition to your pocket. You should expect this procedure especially if your pet underwent a traumatic event.
Even regular dental cleanings can range from $500 to $1,000 when you consider the price of the anesthetic.
Plaque and tartar removal are in the same range as dental cleaning, but treating gingivitis might be costlier, reaching a price of $1,400.
Treating periodontitis costs about the same as treating gingivitis, but considering that it takes longer to heal, you’d be required to visit the vet multiple times. These visits might include teeth extractions and root canal treatments, so we’ll leave you calculating the cost of that yourself.
Consequently, if you neglect your pet early on and wait for their condition to worsen, you can face a dental vet bill of several thousand dollars, and that is if treatments go according to plan and no adverse effects appear.
The Best Pet Dental Insurance Companies
Let’s kick off with our curated list of the best pet insurance companies that offer the most decent dental coverage options on the market.
We’re placing Trupanion first on our list since we’re constantly impressed about their approach on dental coverage for cats and dogs. The company is one of the few to go above and beyond to cover everything considered an illness or injury related to your pet’s oral health.
Whenever your pet has a veterinary dental emergency, Trupanion’s there to cover your medical expenses. They don’t offer a routine care plan, but will extend their coverage to envelop inherited abnormalities that young pets may develop. That’s why it’s best to use the full value of Trupanion’s dental insurance policy while your pets are still babies.
To enroll, Trupanion will require you to take a mandatory dental exam for your pet once every year. You also must follow every piece of advice given to you by your veterinarian and properly care for your pet’s oral health.
Regarding cost, while Trupanion may be on the higher end when compared to other insurance providers, remember that they have no payout limits and reimburse 90% of your vet bills – a benefit that’s not easy to get.
PetFirst is great if you want cheaper dental coverage that will cover most of your pet’s oral needs. They offer multiple discounts to make things even more affordable.
Tooth extractions are covered by PetFirst only if the condition requiring treatment is a result of an accident. Endodontic treatments such as crowns and root canals are always covered. They have three payout options – $2,000, $5,000, and $10,000.
Additionally, you can opt for one of their five wellness plans which cover dental cleanings valued at $50, $100, or $150 in vet bills.
Mouthwash, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and dental sticks and chews aren’t covered either by their main insurance plan or the optional wellness option.
Petplan tries their best to treat pets as they treat family. They boast expansive dental coverage options that include oral diseases and dental injuries.
What we love most about Petplan is that they will cover pre-existing conditions if your pet went a full year without showing symptoms for the previously diagnosed illness.
To sign up for a Petplan insurance policy, you must undertake and pay for a general veterinary exam for your pet and a dental exam if that’s not included in the general one. You have to take this exam once a year in order to stay eligible for coverage.
If you travel around a lot with your pet, Nationwide might be the right fit for you. They offer accident and illness dental coverage for your pets wherever you are in the world at any given moment.
What’s more, if you happen to own rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, mice, or ferrets, Nationwide is the only pet insurance provider that includes dental coverage for these exotic pet types.
Even though Nationwide doesn’t cover enamel hypoplasia, cosmetic teeth procedures, and treating baby teeth, they are one of the cheapest and most trusted insurers out there.
Read the full Nationwide Pet Insurance review.
Embrace is great when it comes to covering all dental conditions, from gum disease and gingivitis to periodontitis and facial and jaw traumas.
However, Embrace imposes an annual cap of $1,000 that goes into your dental coverage, meaning that if you surpass this amount, you won’t be covered for the rest of the dental treatments until your next policy renewal date.
Maintaining a healthy oral state for your pets is easily manageable with Embrace since they offer three amazing preventive care plans with $250, $450, or $650 going into your annual dental coverage. These plans include allowance for dental cleanings, dietary supplements, dental sticks and chews, pet-friendly toothbrushes and toothpaste, and annual dental check-ups.
Vanishing deductibles and an accident-only plan are also some of the many benefits that come with an Embrace dental insurance policy. They will even reinstate pre-existing conditions that have been classified as cured.
Another decent option in the pool of dental coverage plans comes from Healthy Paws. They boast direct vet bill payments, fast claim processing, and unlimited coverage.
While Healthy Paws offer dental accident and illness insurance, they don’t provide a wellness plan, hence won’t cover any routine dental cleanings.
To make sure you always stay eligible for Healthy Paws’ dental coverage, you must follow the advice of your veterinarian and implement preventive methods and products to keep your pets’ dental health in check.
An amazing thing about Healthy Paws is that they regularly donate to animal rescue and care organizations and have helped thousands of homeless animals find shelter.
Pets Best is one of the most detailed insurance providers, covering an all-encapsulating list of oral and dental conditions.
Pets Best covers anything connected with periodontal disease, including tooth extractions and endodontic procedures for carnassial and canine teeth. However, if your pet has periodontitis before you sign up with them, they must be treated for it in order for the related coverage to become available.
To get covered for treatment and removal of baby teeth, enamel hypoplasia, impacted teeth, and dentigerous cysts, you must sign up with Pets Best before your pet turns 6 months old.
Take note that malocclusions, dental prophylaxis, and dental chews and supplements aren’t covered by Pets Best.
Finally, you can opt for a wellness plan by Pets Best to get coverage for dental cleaning with a $150 in treatment value.
Figo’s pet insurance coverage can help you with non-routine dental treatments for your pet. They will reimburse you for any veterinary procedures performed to treat injuries related to your pet’s oral health and teeth as a result of an accident.
For instance, the provider will cover the cost of extractions of any and reconstruction of the lower and upper canine teeth if they were damaged in an accident.
However, Figo doesn’t offer coverage for any disease-related emergencies or illness treatments. Additionally, they lack a wellness plan that usually provides funding that goes toward pet dental cleaning.
ASPCA is yet another well-established pet insurer. They offer comprehensive coverage for oral illnesses such as gingivitis, periodontal disease, and oral cancer. Accident-related injuries like trauma to the face and jaw are also on the ASPCA list of covered veterinary treatments.
What’s more, the company designed a competitive wellness pet plan which is great for covering dental cleaning among the other benefits designed to improve your pet’s wellbeing.
One of the best assets of ASPCA is their pre-existing conditions approach. Your pet needs to go only 6 months without symptoms for a previously recorded condition and they will include that condition on their covered list.
Cosmetic procedures, orthodontic, and endodontic treatments like root canals or planing, caps, crowns, implants, and fillings aren’t covered by ASPCA.
With Hartville, you can get unlimited coverage for your pet’s veterinary expenses regarding dental health.
Besides tooth extractions, Hartville will reimburse you for any dental treatment deemed necessary due to an illness or accident. The exceptions are aesthetic services, endodontic treatments, and dental cleanings that are exclusively part of routine care.
If you wish to include dental cleaning though, you can purchase one of Hartville’s two wellness plans that will put $100 or $150 toward that procedure on a yearly basis.
What to Look For When Getting Pet Dental Insurance
The process of finding the best pet dental insurance can be tiresome, but we’re here to assist you every step of the way. However, only you can decide what’s best for your pet and choose the option that’s most suitable for your budget.
With that being said: here’s what you need to pay attention to when assessing a pet insurance company:
- Take note of the pre-existing conditions policy; companies almost always don’t cover these conditions;
- Make sure to check everything that’s covered by the company and all that’s excluded so you know what you’re signing up for;
- Pay attention to the average claim repayment number of the company – this is a great indicator of how trustworthy an insurance provider is. Additionally, checking the AM Best, the BBB rating, and online customer reviews should provide enough insight into a company’s reliability;
- Find out if your preferred provider offers a wellness plan to help with your routine dental check-ups and procedures;
- Experiment and obtain a few different quotes from your shortlisted providers. This way you’ll know exactly what to expect about the cost of your tailored coverage;
- Lastly, look into discount alternatives like Pet Assure that will help you when any pre-existing conditions resurface and need to be treated.
Do You Really Need Pet Dental Insurance?
Like we mentioned throughout this article, pets often suffer from oral health problems like cavities, gum issues, ulcers, and bad breath. Chewing on hard objects like stones or wood can result in chipped teeth or tissue cuts.
Bacteria are there to cause serious infections and illnesses like gingivitis and periodontitis, and accidents happen more often than you’d imagine. Hereditary conditions are no exception either.
Brushing your cat’s or dog’s teeth will definitely help with preventing future dental issues, however, the threat is there even with constant routine care.
There will be moments when you couldn’t prolong a vet visit anymore, and we’ve talked about how costly they can get. That’s why having pet dental insurance can significantly help mitigate the costs of your vet bills and give you confidence that your pet will enjoy a safe future.
How to Spot the Signs of Arising Oral Issues
Dogs and cats in particular, are masters of masking health issues. They can put up with pain and manage it until it’s too much to take and, sometimes, too late to successfully treat.
What you can do on your part is watch for the symptoms of dental problems, the most common of which include:
- Bloody, red, and swollen gums;
- Blood left on food, water, or toys;
- Discolored teeth (yellow or brown);
- Chipped or broken teeth;
- Uncontrolled drooling;
- Loss of appetite and difficulties while chewing;
- Bad breath;
Remember to schedule an appointment with the vet whenever you spot any or a combination of the above-mentioned symptoms.
How to Prevent Dental Issues for Your Pet
There are a number of steps you can take to prevent your pet from developing dental issues. To help keep serious threats at bay, try to perform all of the following:
- Start by using dental wipes to wipe your pet’s teeth when they are young. This can prepare them for teeth brushing in the future – a process that’s a bit rough on their gums;
- Get advice from your vet on which toothbrush and toothpaste to use. Pick a specially designed pet-safe toothbrush and a toothpaste with chicken, beef, or fish flavor;
- Brush their teeth on a daily basis. If they refuse in the beginning, get some help from your vet;
- There’s a variety of toys that are pet-friendly and help keep teeth clean, even by removing plaque and tartar. Dental sticks and chews are designed with the same purpose in mind;
- Schedule a dental check-up once a year. Taking a comprehensive oral exam will reveal any underlying dental issues which otherwise would go unnoticed.
Your pets are your best friends and you should treat their health like you treat your own.
Dental care is quite expensive but very necessary. Luckily, there are many pet dental insurance options you can choose from and offset the costly vet bills.
We hope our suggestions and tips will help you find whatever solution works best for you. Pups and kittens are that much cuter with their pearly whites in perfect shape.
To discover more about pet insurance and the benefits that come with having a pet insurance policy, visit our comprehensive overview of the best pet insurance companies.
How much is an optional pet dental plan if my insurance policy doesn’t include one?
Dental wellness and routine care plans range from $10 – $50 on average. Keep in mind that these don’t cover dental illnesses or accidents. You’d need insurance coverage for those types of conditions.
What should I do if my pet has periodontal disease?
To begin with, you should immediately take your pet to the vet clinic if you’re suspecting that they have periodontitis. After they treat them for it, follow their advice to ensure they’re set up for a successful recovery. Some of the steps might include washing your pet’s mouth with a specific pet mouthwash and giving them anti-inflammatory pain relievers and antibiotics.
Are pets in pain if they have rotting teeth?
Yes, just like humans, pets experience mild, moderate, and severe toothaches. Whenever you spot discolored, chipped, or broken teeth, you should take them to the veterinary clinic for a check-up and treatment.