Small as they mostly are, the teeth of a dog or cat can cost as much or more to treat as human ones – and paying attention to them should be part of your health care priorities as a pet owner. Pet insurance may help when it comes to paying for that care, and to keeping your pet’s oral health – and, in turn, its overall health – high.
Unlike insurance for humans, where dental coverage requires a separate policy, pet dental insurance is folded into customary pet insurance – or the policies of some pet insurance companies, at least.
Pet dental basics
Here’s a rundown of the dental problems a dog or cat can suffer, along with what pet dental insurance may or may not cover. Signs that your pet may be suffering from these include notably bad breath or drooling. While there are dentists that specialize in pet care, much veterinary dentistry can be performed by the same professional that attends to your pet’s other health care.
Common Dental Problems in Dogs
Dogs rarely get cavities, but are otherwise susceptible to the same dental issues as their owners. And, as with humans, many of these problems can be detected during a dental exam or with the help of X-rays or radiographs.
- Here are some of the dental issues that most frequently bring pets to veterinary clinics:
- Broken or damaged teeth, and roots
- Periodontal disease, which occurs along the gum line
- Infected teeth or abscesses
- Mouth cysts or tumors
- Misaligned teeth and/or bite
- Broken or fractured) jaw
- Cleft palate or related problems
Common dental problems in cats
Cats are susceptible to much the same oral diseases as dogs, so most or all of the health problems for canines also apply to felines. But cats are also prone to what’s known as resorptive lesions – eroded areas in the enamel of the teeth that can be very painful and resemble cavities in humans.
What does pet dental insurance cover
Pet insurance usually covers at least these dental problems:
- Extraction or repair of broken teeth
- Root canals
- Gum disease
What pet dental insurance won’t cover
Dental pet insurance has some of the same coverage limitations as apply for policies for humans. But it also adds some other exclusions, such as preventive care. Here’s a list of dental work that typically isn’t covered by pet insurance plans:
- Pre-existing conditions
- Cosmetic, endodontic, or orthodontic services such as caps, implants and filings
- Routine care such as regular dental exams and dental cleaning
Companies that offer pet dental insurance plans
Here are companies that offer comprehensive dental coverage – as in both for illnesses and accidents, save for the exclusions we note above.
- Healthy Paws
- Nationwide Whole Pet with Wellness
- Pets Best
- Prudent Pet
However, some companies exclude younger animals from dental coverage; Lemonade, for example, doesn’t cover dental care in animals younger than 2 years old. Also, provisions can change from time to time, so pet owners should check the details before you sign on.
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Key Takeaways of Pet Dental Insurance
Coverage for dental care is one potential benefit to pet insurance. But you can’t buy a policy only because you want coverage for your pet’s teeth. Rather, it’s important to assess if the overall benefits of insurance add up to a pet need that’s worth its cost. (For many people, it doesn’t, in our judgment.)
If you decide to get a policy, research the dental care provisions of the various providers. This coverage varies in what it will cover, and the differences may affect your choice. Also, since regular pet insurance policies do not customarily cover preventive procedures, such as teeth cleaning and dental checkups, you might consider adding a wellness plan to your policy, which will cover such expenses, both dental and non-dental.
Finally, dental trouble – and your potential need for a pet insurance policy to cover treatment for it – can be reduced with an ounce of prevention. Vets recommend regular brushing or wiping of your pet’s teeth, along with annual cleanings to head off the possibility of oral surgery for such conditions as gingivitis and the need for tooth extractions.