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What does cat dental insurance cover?

A cat’s teeth do a lot of work, so they need a lot of looking after. That’s why it’s so important to understand whether your pet insurance covers a trip to the cat dentist. We take a look at common questions around cat dental insurance and what it covers.

A cat’s teeth do a lot of work, so they need a lot of looking after. That’s why it’s so important to understand whether your pet insurance covers a trip to the cat dentist. We take a look at common questions around cat dental insurance and what it covers.

Written by
Anna McEntee
Home, pet and travel insurance expert
Last Updated
18 MAY 2023
3 min read
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Does pet insurance include dental cover?

Some pet insurance policies offer cover for the dental treatment your cat needs as a result of an accident or illness. Depending on the policy, cat insurance with dental cover could include:

  • Fixing accidental dental damage 
  • Treating broken teeth or abscesses 
  • Tooth extraction 
  • Damage to teeth and gums resulting from illness.

It’s important to be aware that not all cat insurance policies include dental cover as standard. And there’s no such thing as standalone cat dental insurance.  

When it comes to cat insurance including dental, the levels of cover offered can vary significantly. Some offer cover for illnesses, while others will only cover accidental damage.  

That’s why it’s important to compare your options and read the policy terms and conditions carefully to check what’s included. While you’re at it, check the cover limits for dental treatment and look out for any exclusions, too.  

What dental care is not covered by cat insurance?

Pet insurance policies won’t cover: 

  • Routine dental work like check-ups, teeth cleaning, cosmetic dental treatment or preventative care, such as a descale and polish.
  • Preventable dental conditions. That means you’ll need to keep up with your cat’s annual dental check-up and follow any subsequent course of treatment recommended by your vet. If you don’t and your cat develops a dental illness, such as gum disease, any claim you make for treatment is likely to be rejected.
  • Pre-existing dental conditions. It’s unlikely your cat will be covered for any treatment for pre-existing conditions, dental or otherwise. However, some policies will exclude existing conditions for a specified number of years or offer limited cover for chronic or historic conditions.   

What is the cost of cat dental care? 

Dental treatment for cats can cost several hundred pounds. This is because in most cases, treatment has to be done under a general anaesthetic, so it’s best to have all the necessary work done in a single visit.

It’s up to your vet to decide how much to charge for dental treatment and prices can vary considerably. However, here’s an idea of costs in the UK for the most common dental procedures your cat might need:

  • If your cat has a severe abscess, broken teeth or retained baby teeth, they may need a tooth extraction. Cat tooth removal costs can range between £200-450, as your cat will need a general anaesthetic for the procedure.
  • If your cat has plaque and tartar build up or gingivitis, they’ll need a professional scale and polish, which will also involve general anaesthetic. Professional cat teeth cleaning costs can range from £150-400 depending on your vet and the extent of the problem.   

What dental conditions do cats suffer from?

The most common dental problems in cats are:

  • A build-up of plaque or tartar
  • Mild gum disease (also called gingivitis) 
  • Advanced gum disease (also called periodontal disease) 
  • Fractured or chipped teeth
  • Tooth abscess 
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Tooth damage from accidents
  • Tooth resorption, a cat specific condition where the teeth begin to develop painful lesions or holes around the gumline.

Older cats are more prone to suffer from dental illness, but it’s important to establish a good oral health routine for your cat from an early age. Good dental habits and regular dental checks up from the vet can help you get on top of issues before they become serious problems.

What are the signs of dental problems in cats? 

Signs that your cat may be suffering from dental problems include: 

  • Bad breath
  • Difficulty eating – perhaps indicated by your cat backing away from food, preferring soft food, chewing on one side of their mouth or miaowing in pain when eating. Red, sore or bleeding gums
  • Swelling around your cat’s face, cheeks or jaw 
  • Excessive dribbling
  • Chattering teeth
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Blood in the food or water bowl
  • Weight loss
  • Grooming less (because their mouth is sore). 

If you notice any of these issues, it’s time to get your feline friend to the vet for a dental check-up. Cats might not show any symptoms until their dental problems have become severe. That’s why it’s so important to get your cat’s teeth and gums checked on a regular basis.

Can I prevent dental problems in my cat?

You can reduce the chances of needing to make a dental insurance claim if you look after your cat’s teeth. You can try:

  • Regular brushing – charity Cats Protection recommends this, although be warned that cats need to be trained to let you do this.
  • Adding cat mouthwash to your cat’s drinking water could help with your cat’s oral hygiene. 
  • Using dental gel – if you cat won’t tolerate having its teeth brushed, this can be rubbed on their teeth and gums to help reduce the build-up of plaque. 
  • Dental chews and toys can help keep their teeth healthy.
  • Introducing special dry food diets can enhance your cat’s oral health.
  • Regular check-ups – it’s a good idea to let your vet check your cat’s mouth at least once a year for gum disease.
  • Cleaning away any plaque to prevent dental disease developing with a scale and polish.

How should I brush my cat’s teeth?

You’ll need patience and perseverance to train your cat to let you brush its teeth. It’s best to start building positive associations with teeth brushing when your cat is around six months old, but older cats can learn too. Kittens may find it too painful if they are still teething.

Here are some steps to follow: 

  1. Prepare. You’ll need to buy some cat-safe toothpaste and a cat toothbrush or microfibre cloth to clean your cat’s teeth. Cat toothpaste typically comes in fish and meat flavours to make it more enticing for your feline friend.  
  2. Get into a routine. Start giving your kitten or cat a small amount of the toothpaste each day at around the same time to get them used to the smell, taste, and routine.  
  3. Go slow. Build up towards opening their lips and mouth in small increments. Make sure they’re comfortable before going any further and remember to avoid their delicate whiskers. Once they’re comfortable having their mouth opened you can start getting them used to you touching their teeth and gums.  
  4. Reward them. Give your cat loving attention and treats before and after teeth brushing practice so they start to build positive associations.  
  5. Try brushing. Start with a little toothpaste on your finger and once they’re comfortable with that, try it with a toothbrush or microfibre cloth. Use gentle, small circular motions and focus on the area between the teeth and gums where plaque tends to build up. 
  6. Brush daily. It’s best to brush your cat’s teeth daily if you can. Think of it as extra bonding time for you and your cat.   

What to do if your cat starts to have dental problems?

You should consult your vet as soon as you suspect your cat has dental problems. Make sure the cat’s mouth is kept clean and finish any recommended antibiotics or other drug treatments prescribed by the vet. Provide a balanced diet to boost the cat’s overall health, including soft food and access to plenty of clean water.

How can you make a claim for dental care on your cat insurance? 

It depends on your pet insurance provider and their claims process, but often the first step is to call your provider’s helpline. There should be a number listed on your policy documents.

Your cat insurance provider will be able to advise: 

  • If your claim is likely to be covered  
  • What evidence you’ll need to provide to back up your claim  
  • If you need to pay any excess 
  • How their claims process works and the next steps.  

Frequently asked questions

How many teeth do cats have?

Cats, like humans, have two sets of teeth in their lifetime. A total of 26 milk teeth develop between four and six weeks and are replaced naturally by 30 permanent teeth by the time they’re six months old.

Cats have four different types of teeth:

  • Incisors – the small teeth at the front of your cat’s mouth that are used to carry prey and hold food in their mouth.
  • Canines – these sharp teeth are used for killing prey and shredding food. 
  • Premolars – these teeth are found at the side of your cat’s mouth and are used for chewing. 
  • Molars – these are your cat’s back teeth. They’re bigger than premolars but also used for chewing.  

Do cats get gum disease?

Yes, cats suffer from gum disease (gingivitis). This can also develop into periodontal disease, which is the most prevalent disease in cats over three years old. It’s only reversible if caught early, so it’s important to look out for it. 

Do cats get cavities?

Cavities in cats are similar to those in humans but are much more painful. They’re referred to as neck lesions and are diagnosed using X-rays. 

Are some cat breeds more likely to have dental problems?

Some cat breeds like Abyssinians, Siamese, Maine Coons, Persians and Somalis may be more susceptible, but the main causes of dental problems in cats are diet and dental hygiene.

Why do cats need tooth extraction?

Cats might need to have teeth extracted because: 

  • A tooth has not grown properly or developed fully 
  • Teeth are severely infected 
  • Root abscesses 
  • Jaw fracture. 

Typically, cat tooth extraction costs hundreds of pounds because it involves an X-ray and putting your cat under general anaesthetic. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, for example, if your cat’s teeth are damaged in an accident. However, keeping up with your cat’s dental hygiene and regular dental check-ups can help you catch infections and illnesses before they get to this point.  

Can I use normal toothpaste on my cat?

No. Human toothpaste contains ingredients that can be toxic to cats if swallowed. Special cat toothpaste is available. Try to find a flavour your cat likes, such as chicken or seafood, and introduce it on your finger or on their food before using the brush.

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