will pet insurance cover teeth cleaning?

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will pet insurance cover teeth cleaning?
Posted by Aliya McCullough, DVM, MS on Dec 03 2019

Teeth cleaning is more than just brushing your pet’s teeth – it’s an essential part of the comprehensive oral health assessment and treatment (COHAT) performed by your veterinary team to prevent and treat oral disease and injuries.

While pet parents rely on pet insurance to help manage the cost of other bodily injuries and illnesses, can the same be said for our pet’s teeth? Does pet insurance cover teeth cleaning? Let’s take a closer look at how dental cleaning is beneficial to your pet’s health and if insurance will cover the procedure.

Oral exams and COHATs

Oral diseases and injuries, such as periodontal disease, oral tumors, and fractured teeth, are painful and can negatively impact your pet’s quality of life as well as their overall health. Unfortunately, they are also common.

Oral examinations and cleanings are important for your pet’s dental health, especially because pets may not display symptoms. Regular veterinary health exams can identify oral problems early, but it’s always best to know what symptoms to look for when it comes to oral disease or injury. Schedule a vet visit if you notice any of these signs:*

  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Dental tartar (calculus)
  • Broken or loose teeth
  • Extra teeth, such as a retained baby (deciduous) teeth
  • Abnormal chewing, drooling or dropping food
  • Abnormal behavior

If a problem is noted during a regular health exam, your veterinarian or veterinary dentist may recommend a COHAT under general anesthesia, to provide a more in-depth look at your pet’s mouth. A COHAT generally includes:

  • Complete visual examination and dental charting
  • Dental radiographs (X-rays)
  • Scaling below the gum line (to remove the plaque and tartar)
  • Polishing (this smooths the tooth surface to help prevent future build-up)

Insurance that includes dental coverage

It’s important to read the policy terms and conditions carefully regarding dental coverage. Some pet dental insurance providers offer limited coverage, only insuring certain teeth or denying coverage for dental diseases altogether. Look for a comprehensive pet insurance that does not require the purchase of a rider or add-on to insure all teeth from both disease and injury. Look for policies that include coverage to all teeth for costly conditions including:

  • Periodontal disease
  • Fractured teeth
  • Dental extractions due to injury or disease
  • Retained deciduous teeth
  • Tooth abscesses
  • Oral growths and tumors
  • Advanced dental treatments, such as root canal therapy

As with most pet insurance providers, routine and preventive dental cleanings are not covered. Also, no pet insurance provider will cover pre-existing conditions. This means if a pet had an oral injury or illness prior to enrollment or displayed oral abnormalities during the waiting periods, the condition would not be eligible for coverage.

Partnering with your veterinarian on prevention strategies such as oral exams, dental cleanings and home care is key. Choosing pet insurance with comprehensive dental coverage gives you the peace of mind to treat oral disease and injury at any stage.

*AVMA