According to the American Animal Hospital Association, most dogs and cats begin showing signs of dental disease by age three. These indicators—which can include everything from bad breath and red gums to tartar buildup and cracked teeth—are more than just a cosmetic concern.
Your pet’s poor dental health can lead to pain, inflammation, and even systemic health issues like heart disease later.
It’s no mystery, then, that proper dental care is a major health factor for pets of all ages. However, standard pet insurance policies don’t treat all dental care the same. They typically differentiate between preventative dental care and more acute concerns, like accident dental care and illness dental care.
Here’s a look at whether pet dental coverage is part of a typical pet insurance policy, what it covers, and how you can ensure that your pet’s mouth is always in the best possible shape.
In this guide:
- Does pet insurance cover dental care?
- Pet insurance that covers dental cleaning
- Pet insurance that covers dental care
- Companies offering pet dental coverage
- Dental care tips
Does pet insurance cover dental care?
When it comes to typical pet insurance, dental care is divided into acute care and routine care. Acute care is something that your pet needs suddenly and unexpectedly, while routine care includes things your pet needs on a regular and predictable basis.
Acute dental care is often covered under traditional accident and illness policies. This covers veterinary care expenses related to an accident or illness, up to the policy’s benefit limit. Benefit limits may be per-year or could even be per condition, depending on the specific policy.
If your pet’s dental issues are pre-existing, certain related dental care could be excluded from coverage, even if the visit is due to an accident or illness. This may also be the case if your pet has a genetic condition that was diagnosed prior to the pet insurance policy’s start date.
For example, if your pet showed evidence of poor dental health prior to the policy purchase date and later needs an emergency extraction and bone graft due to a dental root abscess, your carrier may deny your claim. That’s because they could consider this a pre-existing exclusion and/or related to dental neglect.
Most medical pet plans also exclude routine care, regardless of the cost. This means that your pet’s non-emergency dental issues would not be covered.
>> Read More: What does pet insurance cover?
Dental care that’s usually covered
Here’s a look at some of the dental care that is typically covered by pet insurance policies. These expenses are generally only covered if there was no evidence of injury or dental disease prior to buying the policy.
- Tooth extraction and bone grafts
- Tooth reconstruction following an accident or injury
- Malocclusion—care and procedures related to your pet’s overbite or underbite
- Jaw fractures
- Stomatitis (inflammation of the mouth and/or lips)
- Dentigerous cysts or tumors
- Root canals, caps, and crowns
- Periodontal disease, such as gingivitis*
- Dental radiographs
- Surgical care
- Hospital stays
- Oral biopsies
*If your pet’s oral health concerns appear to be related to inadequate routine dental care, care claims could be denied.
Dental care that’s not usually covered
While there are many dental care expenses that can be covered by a typical pet insurance policy, there are some expenses that are rarely, if ever, covered. These include:
- Teeth cleanings (though these may be available with additional wellness coverage)
- Dental checkups
- Extractions or reconstruction related to pre-existing dental disease
- Extraction of retained baby teeth, if your pet isn’t enrolled in coverage from a young age
- Dental care related to a congenital condition for which your pet was already diagnosed
It’s also important to note that most pet insurance policies have a waiting period. This is the minimum amount of time that you must wait before your pet’s dental care needs will be covered following an injury or illness. Typical waiting periods for covered dental care can range from a few days to a couple of weeks.
Pet insurance that covers dental cleaning
You can’t predict when your pet will experience a dental emergency, such as a broken tooth or abscessed root. However, preventative dental care is something that you can plan for, as it needs to be part of your pet’s regular routine.
Routine, or preventative, care includes things like regular dental exams, teeth cleanings, and tartar descaling. But unfortunately, this dental care isn’t covered by a standard pet insurance policy.
To get routine dental care expenses paid for, you’ll need to consider buying wellness coverage for your pet. This can come in the form of a wellness add-on to an existing insurance policy, or a separate pet wellness plan that you purchase in addition to your pet insurance coverage.
Pet wellness plans are intended to provide coverage for the regular and routine care that helps keep your pet healthy. These plans often cover preventative dental care, in addition to things like wellness checks, vaccines, flea and heartworm treatment, and even grooming.
With a pet wellness plan, owners generally receive an annual limit for specific coverage categories. For example, your pet’s routine dental care may be limited to $200 per year, which could include whichever exams, x-rays, cleanings, and anesthesia that your pet may need.
Wellness coverage for dental cleaning
Buying a pet wellness plan for dental care coverage may be a worthwhile expense for many pet owners. Here are some things to consider before buying one of these policies to see if it’s the right choice for you and your pet.
Plans can reduce your out-of-pocket costs through reimbursement.
Rather than paying in full for all of your pet’s routine dental care, a pet wellness plan can pay a portion of those expenses up to your policy’s annual limit.
Wellness coverage includes other preventative procedures in addition to dental cleaning.
We’re talking about dental coverage, but that’s not all these wellness plans offer. You’ll get routine dental care coverage while taking advantage of coverage for annual check-ups, flea and tick meds, vaccines, and more. Some plans even offer coverage for spay/neuter surgery, nail trimming, grooming, and microchipping.
They can be affordable.
Pet wellness plans can cost $20 or less per month, making them worth the expense if you plan to use the routine coverage they provide. All are designed to cost you less than you’ll be reimbursed.
Pet owners will pay a higher premium than if they just have medical coverage.
It may seem obvious, but if you buy pet wellness and insurance coverage, you’ll also pay for both types of coverage. While your premiums may easily be recouped by your coverage benefits throughout the year, this is an added expense to consider.
The per-item benefit limit may not cover all of your costs.
Depending on what your pet needs and what your pet wellness plan offers, you may still be stuck with out-of-pocket expenses. For example, if your pet needs to be put under for a full cleaning, exam, and descaling for $450, but your pet wellness plan only offers $250 per year in dental coverage, you’ll pay the remaining $200.
Pet insurance companies that cover dental care
In the table and reviews below, we’ll take a look at what type of dental coverage is offered by some popular pet insurance companies.
|Company||Dental Illness||Dental Accidents||Routine Dental Care*|
* Routine dental care is covered if your policy includes an optional wellness add-on.
Rated 4.5 out of 5
- Its accident and illness policy covers both dental injuries and illnesses
- Add a wellness plan to your policy for reimbursement on routine cleanings
- Choose from $2,500, $4,000, $5,000, $7,000, $10,000, or unlimited for your annual coverage limit
Pet insurance coverage through Spot is both customizable and reliable. The company that underwrites Spot policies has been offering insurance coverage for more than a century. Pet owners can choose between an accident and illness or an accident-only policy.
What type of dental coverage does it offer?
An accident and illness policy covers both dental injuries and illnesses, while an accident-only policy only covers dental injuries. Routine dental care—which includes dental cleanings—is available with the optional purchase of a preventative plan.
Deductibles range from $100 to $1,000 with reimbursement available for 70%, 80%, or 90% of covered care costs. There are no per-incident or lifetime limits on covered care, and plans are available for pets as young as eight weeks.
Rated 4.3 out of 5
- Your choice of an accident and illness or accident-only policy with optional wellness
- No networks
- Get reimbursed up to 90% for covered care
One of the first pet insurance providers in the U.S., ASPCA has been offering pet insurance coverage since 1997. Since then they have processed more than 1.6 million pet insurance claims.
What type of dental coverage does it offer?
ASPCA pet insurance is available as a full-coverage, accident-only, or preventative care add-on plan. This means that both dental illnesses and accidents are covered under the full coverage plan. Pet owners can also buy coverage for routine care, starting at just $9.95 per month, which includes dental cleanings.
The cost for ASPCA pet insurance depends on your pet’s age, breed, and location, as well as the plan options you choose when building the policy. Deductibles can either be $100, $250, or $500, while reimbursement coverage can range from 70% to 90% of a covered expense. A higher reimbursement amount, or more cash back on your claims, will mean higher premiums.
There are also annual coverage limits to choose from, which range from $2,500 per year to unlimited coverage.
Rated 4.9 out of 5
- Covers dental accidents, illnesses, injuries, and diseases
- To maintain coverage, your pet must have an annual dental exam
- Added benefits include Fetch Forward™, virtual vet visit coverage, and boarding fees coverage
Formerly known as Petplan, Fetch was founded in 2003 and has since become a highly-rated pet insurance company. Fetch offers accident and illness pet insurance coverage to cat and dog parents across the U.S. and Canada.
What type of dental coverage does it offer?
Traditional medical plans through Fetch cover new dental injuries and diseases. They also cover every tooth, not just canines. A preventative care plan is not offered through Fetch, so costs for routine dental exams, cleanings, and scalings will have to come out of pocket.
Medical plans are offered with annual deductibles of $300, $500, or $700, and reimbursement of 70%, 80%, or 90%. Annual coverage limits are either $5,000, $10,000, or $15,000.
Rated 4.7 out of 5
- Covers extractions, gingivitis, root canals, and more, up to $1,000 per year
- Routine dental care is covered with an optional wellness plan
- No dental exam required
Dog and cat parents can get injury, illness, and even wellness protection for their pet(s) through Embrace, a highly rated and leading pet insurance company. Plans can be purchased throughout the U.S. for pets as young as six weeks.
What type of dental coverage does it offer?
Embrace will cover accident- or illness-related dental care for your pet each year, with no dental exam required. This includes extractions, root canals, broken teeth, and crowns. Dental illness coverage is allowed for up to $1,000 in care per year, while dental accident coverage is allowed up to your policy’s overall limit.
Medical plan deductibles range from $200 to $1,000 per year with annual reimbursement limits of $5,000 to $30,000. You can choose a reimbursement percentage of 70%, 80%, or 90% of your pet’s covered care expenses.
For an additional cost, pet owners can add the Embrace wellness plan to their coverage. It provides reimbursement for routine dental expenses, including exams, cleanings, and teeth brushing, as well as supplies like dental chews, toothbrushes, and toothpaste.
Tips for pet dental care
Your pet’s dental health might not be the first thing you think about in the morning, but it’s critical to their overall health and wellness. Routine dental care from a young age can not only help your pet avoid unnecessary pain and discomfort, but can also keep them from certain chronic conditions later in life.
- Regular brushing: Routine dental health can include brushing your pet’s teeth regularly to prevent tartar and plaque buildup (or gingivitis). Easier said than done with some pets, but that’s why it can be helpful to start this process while your pet is still very young. Special dental chews are available that help clean your pet’s mouth while also providing them with a treat—a win for everyone.
- Regular exams and cleanings: You should also take your pet in for routine dental exams and professional cleanings. Depending on your pet’s temperament, their current dental health, and their age, this cleaning might involve descaling and may even require anesthesia.
You want your furry friends to live a long and happy life. Ensuring that they have the best possible dental health is a big key to your success.
While many pet insurance policies only cover dental emergencies and acute care needs, buying pet wellness coverage—either as a policy add-on or as a stand-alone policy—can help protect them from emergencies and also provide them with adequate preventative care for life.