When it comes to medical conditions that could affect your pet, dental disease might not be the first thing that comes to mind. Fleas, ticks, and heartworm disease are important conditions to look out for, but when you consider that more than two thirds of dogs older than three are affected by dental disease, it’s clear that pet dental insurance is a worthwhile investment.

What is Pet Dental Insurance?

What does pet dental insurance cover?

Pet dental insurance covers a range of dental care, from accidents to periodontal disease. Treatment of dental issues can involve radiographs and anesthesia, and even antibiotics or extractions. Most of these policies cover illnesses and accidents, but you can also get a basic accident-only plan if you want to save a bit but still have some coverage for your furry friend. You can even check to see if the policy that you’ve chosen covers congenital and hereditary conditions, as some of these dental health conditions could be ones that your pet might be predisposed to.

Dental insurance in pet plans decoded

When it comes to covering your pet with dental insurance, you’ll want to check with each carrier to see what they do and do not cover. We took a look atfive top pet insurance carriers, and this is what we found:

Embrace Pet Insurance

Covers dental illness of up to $1,000 a year and is available in a variety of states. With their Wellness Rewards plan, you can get up to $650 a year reimbursed for cleanings and dental illness treatments. They do not cover pre-existing conditions, however, so that is something to be aware of going in.

Healthy Paws

Covers things like lack of appetite, which can commonly be caused by dental problems, but they don’t cover dental problems except in the event of injury, where they will cover extractions or replacement of upper and/or lower teeth.

PetPlan

Specifically identifies dental disease as one of the things that it covers, and they even offer to reimburse up to ninety percent of your vet bill before the bill even arrives. They also cover dental injury. They utilize an app for you to file your claims with, making the entire process quick and painless.

PetPremium

Plans with illness coverage cover dental disease, and their Advanced Wellness option covers annual cleanings.

ASPCA

Has a variety of plans for you to choose from, whether you want to cover illnesses and accidents, basic preventive care, standard preventive care, or prime preventive care. The preventive care packages include dental cleaning coverage.

What to look for in your pet’s dental insurance coverage

It’s always a good idea to do your due diligence and figure out if dental conditions are covered under the pet insurance that you’re looking into, as not every policy will cover dental conditions. As a rule, most pet insurance policies will not cover preexisting conditions, but if you bring your pet to the vet after a certain amount of time has passed since obtaining your policy, you should be able to get coverage for whatever their condition might be.

When you consider just how prevalent the issue of dental disease is in pets today, it’s clear that getting a policy that covers dental disease is vital.

Specifically, look for terminology relating to dental disease and periodontal disease, cleanings and x-rays, even anethesia (which is needed for pet dental cleanings for safety of your pet and the vet). Most plans cover accidents, but going a step further with preventive care will save you money and trouble later on.

Deductibles and reimbursement matter

While many policies do cover dental disease for your pet, not all of them will offer the same deductible or even reimburse the same amount of money for you. For that reason, it’s important to shop around a bit before settling on a plan. This will ensure that you get the kind of coverage that your pet needs without having to sacrifice on quality.

  • Accident-only plans: Usually only cover dental accident or injury, ie. A broken tooth
  • Illness plans: Cover things like periodontal (dental) disease, gingivits and sometimes regular cleanings (check your policy for details)
  • Wellness plans: Typically offer a reimbursement for dental cleaning, ranging from $150-$650 per year

What is pet dental disease?

Dental disease in pets starts out as a simple buildup of bacteria, which can lead to inflammation of the gums, commonly known as gingivitis, if left untreated. Should this continue, the ligaments and bones that support the teeth will then be affected, eventually leading to tooth loss. But this goes even beyond tooth loss: If the bacteria happens to enter into the bloodstream, it can go on to infect other organs in the body.

Periodontal disease presents as your pet feeling generally uncomfortable. Here are some signs you can look for:

  • Bad breath
  • Flinching or pulling away from you when you try to look at their teeth or touch their mouth
  • Quivering lips
  • Growling or hissing
  • Red and swollen gums
  • Visible tartar buildup
  • Roots showing above gumline
  • Open facial wounds
  • Mouth or lip ulcers
  • Rubbing their face on the floor or wall
  • Fatigue, not eating hard treats or food, lethargy

The good news is that pet dental disease can be easily prevented and treated. By providing your pet with regular, preventative dental care, you’ll be able to avoid serious medical conditions and expensive cleanings or even surgeries.

The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that your pet receive regular cleanings – at least once a year.

How do you know if your pet is suffering from pet dental disease?

Proper care starts with detection. When it comes to pet dental disease, you’ll want to be on the lookout for tan or brown plaque. You’ll notice that your pet has bad breath, they might be drooling excessively, their gums will be red and inflamed, and they might even drop food from their mouth and refuse to chew on toys because of the pain that’s going on in their mouth. Your pet might also display their discomfort by pawing at their mouth, rubbing their mouth on the ground, or even refusing to eat. In order to diagnose dental disease in your pet, you’ll first want to do an examination of your pet’s gums and teeth. You can then have dental x-rays done as well as blood tests to determine the extent of the condition.

Treatment

When it comes to treatment, the vet will conduct blood tests and clean the teeth using polishing tools and ultrasonic scaling to get rid of any tartar or plaque that may be on the teeth. If necessary, the vet will perform dental surgery to remove any teeth that might be damaged. The vet will then prescribe oral antibiotics to help combat the dental disease and keep it from recurring in your pet. It’s important to get professional treatment for your pet should you believe that they have dental disease, because while you can remove some of the tartar from their mouth, you’ll only be able to remove tartar from above your pet’s gum line. Even after you clean the tartar that you’re able to see, there could still be more tartar that could continue to cause problems in the future. Along with this, using dental instruments on your pet could cause damage to their teeth. In order to prevent such damage, you should only allow a trained veterinarian to clean your pet’s teeth.

Preventive dental care for your pet

Along with using approved toothpaste for pets to regularly clean their teeth, you should be sure to get an annual oral exam for your pet as well. If necessary, your vet can also prescribe a dental diet. That way, your pet will have fun chewing while simultaneously keeping their teeth and gums clean. If they don’t respond to this diet, there are also liquids and gels that you can add to their water as well as chew toys that will do the same job. As with medical conditions for humans, the best way to handle costly and dangerous illnesses for your pets is to prevent them. If you put in the leg work of regular maintenance and preventative care for your pet’s dental health, you’ll be able to avoid costly and scary trips to the vet.

Since periodontal disease is the most common form of dental disease in pets, and can lead to a host of other, more serious heart, lung and organ issues, it is important that you make dental care a priority and find a pet dental insurance plan that supports your goals.