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How Much Does a Cat Teeth Cleaning Cost?

Whether your veterinarian has told you that your cat needs a teeth cleaning or you are just being proactive about your cat’s oral health, you have probably wondered what’s involved in the procedure and how much it’s going to set you back.

Here’s a complete guide on everything you need to know about veterinary cat dental cleanings.

Why Should You Set Money Aside for Professional Cat Dental Cleanings?

Research has shown that the benefits of caring for our pets’ teeth go far beyond a bright smile and fresh breath. Periodontitis—infection, inflammation and breakdown of the structures that support teeth—can lead to severe oral infections and tooth loss, to start with. And it has even been associated with an increased risk for diseases affecting the heart, lungs, kidneys and other parts of a cat’s body.

Once your cat has dental tartar, gingivitis or more advanced periodontitis, a professional dental cleaning is the only way to get rid of it. It makes financial sense to pay for a professional teeth cleaning before these issues come up, or before they turn into more costly issues that cause your pet to suffer.

How Much Does a Cat Dental Cleaning Cost?

The costs associated with cat dental cleanings vary from one office or location to another due to differences in overhead expenses like rent, salaries, taxes, etc.

Also, a dental cleaning for a healthy cat with minimal tartar and no other oral problems will be much cheaper than a cleaning for a cat that has severe periodontitis, several loose teeth in need of extraction, or kidney disease that requires additional anesthetic monitoring and support.

That said, according to Nationwide Pet Insurance, their average claim for a pet dental cleaning was $190, which increased to $404 when dental disease required treatment.

Your veterinarian will be able to provide you with a more individualized estimate.

Just make sure you discuss how you would like them to proceed if they find something unexpected that requires additional treatment and charges. Communication is the key to preventing unwanted surprises when it comes time to pay your bill.

What Does the Cost of a Cat Dental Cleaning Include?

The only way to safely (for both the cat and veterinary personnel) and fully examine and clean a cat’s teeth is to use general anesthesia. Typically, general anesthesia for dental cleanings in cats involves:

  • Lab work in order to pick the safest anesthetic protocol possible based on a cat’s particular needs

  • Several different injectable medications to induce anesthesia and ease anxiety and pain

  • An IV catheter so that fluids can be administered to support blood pressure and to provide immediate venous access should an emergency arise

  • The placement of a tube with an inflatable cuff into the cat’s trachea to administer anesthetic gasses and to protect the lungs from liquid and debris

  • The use of several different monitors during anesthesia

What Happens During a Veterinary Cat Dental Cleaning?

The 2019 AAHA Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats lists twelve steps to follow before, during and after a dental cleanings, surgeries and procedures. Here’s the paraphrased version of what’s involved:

  1. Perform an oral evaluation on the conscious patient before administering anesthesia (often easier said than done!).

  2. X-ray the entire mouth of the anesthetized patient. This is the only way to determine if deeper structures, like the roots of teeth, are healthy.

  3. Scale the teeth (remove plaque and tartar) above and below the gums using appropriate tools.

  4. Polish the teeth to smooth the enamel, which helps inhibit the reformation of plaque and tartar.

  5. Perform oral evaluation using a periodontal probe, looking for deep pockets between the teeth and gums that require treatment.

  6. Flush out the pockets between the teeth and gums to remove debris, and add polishing paste in order to fully inspect the area.

  7. Perform indicated periodontal therapy (root canals, for example) or extractions after informing and receiving consent from the owner.

  8. Administer either systemic or local antibiotics where indicated.

  9. Apply antiplaque substances such as barrier sealants to the teeth.

  10. Biopsy all abnormal masses and submit them to a qualified pathologist.

  11. Maintain an open airway via intubation until the animal is swallowing and can lie by theirself on their chest.

  12. Provide instruction on at-home dental care, including the use of safe cat dental products.

By: Jennifer Coates, DVM

Featured Image: iStock.com/KMQ