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Puppies have 28 teeth and often enjoy chewing on wooden furniture, rocks, and other items that aren’t labeled as “chew toys.” This can lead to foreign body ingestion and opens up the risk of tooth destruction.
As puppies age, they lose their baby teeth, and their adult teeth grow in. All breeds have 42 teeth as adults. Whether it’s playing with a toy, wrestling with a furry pal or pet parent, or getting injured accidentally by a car or something else, it’s common for dogs to experience dental issues due to illness or injury.
Some breeds are even predisposed to specific dental ailments like gum disease, developmental abnormalities, and more. Depending on your dog’s breed, you may want to find a pet insurance provider with the best dental coverage to increase the likelihood of claims coverage.
We’ve researched some of the most common dental issues dogs can experience and read through more than ten policies to give you the best dental insurance options for your pet. Keep in mind that there are many elements to pet insurance, but if dental coverage is your number one concern, we’ve got a lot of information to share with you below.
To read about all the pet insurance factors you should consider, we also recommend reading our comprehensive pet insurance guide.
- Most Common Dental Issues For Pets
- Best Pet Dental Insurance
- Comparison Table
- Other Pet Insurance Companies
Below are some of the most common dental disorders found in dogs and cats. Some of these are preventable with proper dental care, including wellness measures like tooth brushing and regular vet checkups.
Gum disease occurs when a bacterial infection of the tissue surrounding the teeth causes inflammation of the gums, ligaments that anchor the teeth, and surrounding bone. If untreated, dogs may suffer from tooth loss and deterioration of supporting tissue. Gum disease is the most common reason dogs experience tooth loss.
Certain breeds, genetics, age, and diet can be contributing factors to developing gum disease. There are two forms of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis.
Gingivitis occurs when the gums become inflamed because of bacterial plaque, but the ligaments and bone are unaffected. Symptoms include:
- Swollen gums
- Red or purple gums
- Gums bleed on contact
- Bad breath
Gingivitis is commonly diagnosed around age two. Fortunately, you can reverse gingivitis with proper tooth cleaning. But, if left untreated, it can lead to periodontitis.
Predisposed Breeds: Pugs, English Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Shih Tzus, and Brussells Griffons
Periodontitis is more severe than gingivitis, including tissue damage to the gums, ligaments, and bone. It typically presents itself after years of plaque, tartar, and gingivitis. Unfortunately, it’s irreversible and causes permanent loss of tooth support.
This is more common in smaller breeds as opposed to larger ones. Dogs on a hard kibble diet tend to have fewer issues since the kibble can help clean the teeth as they chew. Back teeth and upper teeth are typically more affected by periodontitis than front teeth and lower teeth.
Periodontitis is commonly diagnosed around 4 to 6 years old. It’s treated by professional cleaning and often requires x-rays of the jaws to determine bone support. Extractions are common, and your vet may recommend specific oral hygiene care at home, including:
- Daily tooth brushing
- Diet changes
- Plaque prevention gel
- Oral rinses
Endodontic disease, also known as pulpitis, occurs when the tooth’s living tissue, known as the pulp, is damaged or infected. The cause is usually an injury, fracture, enamel abnormality, or tooth decay.
Fractures are a common cause of pulpitis in dogs and can occur from an external trauma like aggressive play or a car accident or chewing bones, antlers, hard nylon toys, rocks, fences, etc.
There are two types of endodontic disease, reversible and irreversible. Reversible pulpitis is when the pulp is damaged but can heal. Irreversible pulpitis is when the pulp is dead and will need a root canal or extraction for treatment. Symptoms include:
- Painful teeth that your pet won’t let you touch or tap
- Tooth with reddish-brown, purple, or gray coloring
- Visible fracture
- Red or black hole on a crown
- Facial swelling
- Decreased appetite
Dogs are good at hiding their pain, which can make diagnosis difficult. A vet can take X-rays to help identify any affected teeth. Treatment includes root canal or tooth extraction.
These are commonly genetically inherited. Developmental abnormalities that affect your dog’s comfort, health, or function may require treatment. But if it is merely an esthetic abnormality, it is okay to leave untreated.
Smaller breeds are prone to having teeth that remain under the gumline (unerupted teeth). Dogs with shorter and flatter heads (also known as brachycephalic breeds) can have unerupted teeth.
X-rays can help diagnose unerupted teeth and determine if a cyst is present. Cysts can be dangerous because they can destroy the jaw. It is important to extract unerupted teeth to prevent further damage to the mouth.
Predisposed Breeds: Shih Tzus, Pugs, Bulldogs, Lhasa Apsos, Boston Terriers, and Maltese
The growth and development of the mouth and teeth must occur in proper order or complications can arise. Various issues can occur, including:
- Overbite (Collies, Shelties, and Dachshunds are predisposed)
- Underbite (Boston Terriers, Pekingese, French Bulldogs, English Bulldogs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Pugs, Lhasa Apsos, Boxers, and Shih Tzus are predisposed)
- Extra teeth
- Incorrect position of a baby tooth
- Delayed loss of baby teeth
- Abnormal positioning or tilting of teeth (Shih Tzus, Pugs, Bulldogs, Lhasa Apsos, Boston Terriers, and Maltese are predisposed)
- Crowding of teeth (Shih Tzus, Pugs, Bulldogs, Lhasa Apsos, Boston Terriers, and Maltese are predisposed)
- Rotated teeth (Shih Tzus, Pugs, Bulldogs, Lhasa Apsos, Boston Terriers, and Maltese are predisposed)
As both baby and permanent teeth develop, fevers and chemical deposits within the tooth can create lasting damage. Canine distemper virus attacks the enamel-producing cells of the teeth and causes a fever. This deteriorates the enamel and causes it to be thinner. There are other diseases with fevers that can cause enamel to develop incorrectly as well.
Young dogs with severe malnutrition can experience enamel defects. If there are enamel defects in single teeth, it’s most likely due to trauma or infection. A common reason for infection is due to fractured baby teeth affecting the enamel of permanent teeth coming in. Some breeds are predisposed to enamel defects because they can inherit them from their parents.
Predisposed Breeds: Siberian Huskies, Samoyeds, and Standard Poodles
Trauma To The Face & Jaw
Trauma can include falls, chewing, fighting with other animals, car accidents, and more. Jaw fractures can occur due to periodontitis or cancer. Depending on the severity of the trauma, your vet may recommend a specific treatment.
Crown placement, root canals, and wound care are among the possible remedies. Various procedures can produce an array of costs, and treatment to the mouth can cause difficulty eating, resulting in a temporary feeding tube while healing occurs.
We took a fine-tooth comb and read through every detail in each pet insurance company’s sample policy below. We list specific coverage and exclusions regarding tooth and dental procedures, injuries, illnesses, and definitions that we thought may be valuable for you to know about if you’re concerned about a specific accident or illness.
Some pet insurance companies are more detailed in their policies than others, so some reviews have more information. And keep in mind that any dental illness or injury observed prior to the effective date of the policy or during a pet insurance company’s waiting period will not be covered and is deemed pre-existing.
We chose our winners based on dental coverage alone. However, if you want to know our top picks for the best pet insurance, we suggest reading our pet insurance comparison.
The information gathered below is taken straight from the companies’ sample policies.
As always, we recommend you check with the pet insurance company before enrollment regarding what is and isn’t covered. The sample policies we read may be different from what’s active in your state.
Pets Best is very detailed on its dental coverage, having an entire section dedicated to it. We like that it offers an optional preventative plan to help cover dental cleaning expenses. It also covers non-routine dental treatment, including periodontal disease, tooth extractions, trauma to the teeth, face, jaw, etc. Here are some key details we’d like to point out.
- Periodontal Disease is an infection and inflammation of the periodontium (the tissues that surround and support the teeth) due to plaque bacteria and your pet’s response to the bacterial insult. This includes both gingivitis and periodontitis. Learn more about dog teeth infections.
- Beginning at 3 years of age, your pet’s teeth must have been cleaned and examined under general anesthesia by a veterinarian in the 13 months before the date of service for the periodontal disease claim. Any periodontal disease found during the exam must be treated before periodontal disease coverage becomes available for your pet.
- If you comply with the above, the following is covered for periodontal disease:
- Endodontic treatment for canine and carnassial teeth.
- If you comply with the above, the following is covered for periodontal disease:
- Endodontic treatment for canine and carnassial teeth and extraction for all teeth due to traumatic dental fractures and other oral traumas are covered as long as they aren’t caused by inappropriate chewing behavior that presented prior to the policy effective date or during the waiting period.
- Your pet must be enrolled prior to becoming 6 months old for coverage including extractions for deciduous teeth, dentigerous cysts, enamel hypoplasia, and unerupted teeth.
- Prophylaxis (defined as scaling, cleaning and polishing of the teeth) or associated fees (including, but not limited to: anesthesia, pre-anesthetic blood work and fluids), toothbrushes, toothpastes, dental foods, chews, preventive sealants or rinses at any time or for any reason.
- Endodontic treatment for teeth other than the canines and carnassials.
- Open or closed root planing at any time for any reason.
- Any treatment for supernumerary teeth, absent teeth, and malocclusion.
- Preventative care (unless you purchase a Wellness plan).
Pets Best also offers a wellness plan that includes $150 that can go toward teeth cleaning.
Trupanion has an entire section in its sample policy detailing its dental coverage. Although it doesn’t offer a preventative plan, it does offer coverage for many non-routine dental treatments, including tooth extractions, developmental abnormalities (if enrolled before 6 months old), and more.
- Dental prophylaxis: Scaling, cleaning and polishing of the teeth as well as associated fees, including but not limited to: anesthesia, pre-anesthetic blood work, and fluids.
- Illness: Any sickness, disease, or any change to your pet’s normal healthy state not caused primarily by an injury, including dental illness.
- Injury: Physical harm or damage to your pet caused by an event and is not more directly related to an underlying disease process, including dental injury.
- Your pet’s teeth must be examined by a veterinarian at least once every 12 months.
- If for any reason your pet’s teeth have not been examined by a veterinarian within the 12 months prior to the policy enrollment date, dental coverage starts from the date of your pet’s first dental examination after the policy enrollment date. In addition to all other terms and conditions, any illnesses or injuries found at such an examination or signs prior to such an examination will not be eligible for dental coverage.
- You must follow your veterinarian’s advice about dental care, and if recommended, your pet must undergo dental prophylaxis performed by or under the direct supervision of a veterinarian within the recommended time frame. If your veterinarian does not provide a recommended time frame, then the specified treatment must be completed within three months of the date of the recommendation.
- Veterinary treatment required due to dental illness and injury, subject to all other terms and conditions of this policy.
- Dental prophylaxis at any time or for any reason.
- Toothbrushes, toothpastes, dental foods, chews, rinses, or preventive dental care at any time or for any reason.
- Open or closed root planing at any time or for any reason.
- Any veterinary treatment related to retained deciduous teeth if your pet was enrolled at or after 6 months of age.
- Veterinary treatment costs for teeth other than canine and carnassial teeth will be limited to the estimated extraction cost.
Embrace is transparent about helping you avoid coverage surprises. It says: To avoid coverage surprises, we strongly encourage you to complete a pre-certification form, which we shall provide upon request, and submit that form to us before your veterinary provider orders or performs a list of procedures, including surgery for dental injury.
We like that Embrace offers multiple wellness plans, covers non-routine dental treatment, tooth extractions, trauma to teeth, face, and jaw, and more. Below are specifics it outlines in its sample policy.
- Dental illness is an illness affecting the teeth and/or gums including but not limited to gingivitis, stomatitis, epulis, attrition, and gingival hyperplasia. This does not include FORLs or illnesses manifesting as oral diseases such as FELV gingivitis, feline bartonella infection, or auto-immune (eosinophilic) stomatitis.
- Accidents resulting in dental trauma, burns, and fractures; (if shown as applicable on the schedule page(s)).
- Accidental dental fractures that occur or first show signs after the end of the accident waiting period.
- We will reimburse you for eligible veterinary treatment expenses caused by dental illness in excess of the deductible amount, subject to co-payment requirements and a $1,000 annual maximum sub-limit, for all treatment(s) except dental prophylaxis, for conditions that started after the waiting period and during the policy period.
- Endodontic treatment for dental Injuries, such as root canals and crowns, where deemed medically necessary.
Embrace offers three wellness plans ($250, $450, or $650 in total benefits) to choose from, which include coverage for:
- Routine dental cleaning (with or without anesthesia)
- Pet toothbrushes and toothpaste
- Dental chews
- Annual dental checkups
- Teeth brushing by groomer or vet
- Dietary dental supplements
The table below shows all the pet insurance companies we review and what coverage you can expect from each. However, keep in mind that your policy may not be the same as the sample policies we read, so it’s extremely important to speak with a representative from the pet insurance company you’re interested in because coverage and exclusions may vary.
|1st: Pets Best||2nd: Trupanion||3rd: Embrace||24PetWatch||AKC||ASPCA/Hartville||Figo||Healthy Paws||Nationwide||PetFirst||Petplan|
|Exam Fees||Extra Fee||ExamPlus Plan||Extra Fee||Extra Fee|
|Preventative Care Available For An Extra Fee|
|Amount Alotted For Teeth/Dental Cleaning w/ Preventative Care Plan||$150||Up to $250, $450, or $650 under Wellness Rewards||$100||$150||$100 or $175||$100||Not Included||$50, $100 or $150|
|Non-Routine Dental Treatment|
|Gum (Periodontal) Disease||Canines and Carnassials Only|
|Tooth Extraction||Due To Accident||Due To Accident||Due To Accident||Due To Accident|
|Endodontic Disease||Canines and Carnassials Only||Canines and Carnassials Only|
|Developmental Abnormalities||Enrolled Before 6 Months Old||Enrolled Before 6 Months Old||If not pre-existing|
|Trauma To Teeth, Face & Jaw|
|Illness Waiting Period||14 Days||30 Days||14 Days||14 or 30 Days||14 Days||14 Days||14 Days||15 Days||14 Days||14 Days||15 Days|
|Accident Waiting Period||3 Days||5 Days||2 Days||None||2 Days||14 Days||3 Days||15 Days||14 Days||1 Day||15 Days|
|Hereditary Conditions||HereditaryPlus Plan|
|Congenital Conditions||HereditaryPlus Plan|
|Claim Limits||$5,000 or unlimited||Unlimited||$5,000 to unlimited||$5,000, $10,000, $20,000||$2,500 to unlimited||$3,000 to $10,000||$5,000 to unlimited||Unlimited||Limited per condition or unlimited||$1,000 to Unlimited||$2,500 to unlimited|
|Average Claim Repayment||25-40 days||Allows 60 days||10-15 bus. days||Allows 60 days||7 days||8-9 days||5-7 bus. days||2 days||Allows 30 days||5-10 days||5-14 bus. days|
The companies listed below did not make our top three rankings for best dental insurance, but we’ve looked at their sample policies in case you want to learn more.
24PetWatch isn’t among our top recommendations for dental coverage because of the exclusions listed below.
- Dental: Pertaining to the teeth.
- Dental and orthodontic health care, dental treatment, dental procedures and/or dental diseases including but not limited to treatment of the teeth and gums, dental caries (cavities), gingivitis, periodontitis, retained deciduous teeth, malocclusion, periodontal disease, root canals, caps, crowns, or abscessed teeth.
- Any treatment for medical conditions arising from lack of use and/or failure to follow a preventative health care plan generally accepted by veterinary standards or recommended by your veterinarian. Preventative health care plan includes but is not limited to; vaccinations, flea control, heartworm medication, de-worming, dental care, grooming.
24PetWatch also offers a wellness plan that includes $100 that can go toward dental cleaning.
Below are the specific details AKC Pet Insurance and PetPartners includes in its sample policy about dental and teeth-related incidences.
- After satisfying the annual deductible indicated on the declarations page, we will reimburse you in accordance with your plan, less any limitations and exclusions, the amount after coinsurance for eligible covered expenses that are medically necessary to treat or diagnose a current covered incident showing symptoms during the policy period but after the waiting period, including but not limited to extractions to permanent broken teeth due to an accident.
- Any conditions related to teeth including but not limited to gingivitis, periodontal disease, root canals, caps and crowns, vital pulpotomies, deciduous teeth, diseased and abscessed teeth (except medically necessary extractions for permanent broken teeth due to an accident). The cost of dental cleaning unless you purchase optional Defender/DefenderPlus coverage.
AKC Pet Insurance offers a wellness plan that includes $150 that can go toward teeth cleaning.
There’s not much explanation provided in the ASPCA, Hartville, and PetPremium policies except these two exclusions.
- Aesthetic, cosmetic, endodontic, or orthodontic dental services such as caps, crowns or crown amputation, fillings, implants, and root canals or planing.
- Dental cleanings unless used to treat a covered illness or covered by an applicable endorsement.
ASPCA offers two wellness plans that include $100 or $175 that can go toward dental cleaning.
Figo doesn’t detail many tooth and dental-related items in its sample policy, opening it up for possible misinterpretation. However, we like that it offers a preventative plan option and covers non-routine dental treatments. See below for more details listed in its sample policy.
- Dental health care, however if injury to teeth is caused by an accident, we do cover the cost of extractions of damaged teeth and of reconstruction of upper and lower canine teeth.
- Claims for teeth cleanings, except as provided under the Wellness Benefit if purchased. Gingivitis and progressive periodontal disease caused by the accumulation of tartar is not a covered expense.
Figo has two wellness plan options that include $100 toward teeth cleaning.
Healthy Paws says it will cover elements of dental health care if caused by injury from an accident. It will not cover routine dental care (this is fairly common practice for pet insurance providers unless you purchase a wellness plan).
- Dental health care is the care required to maintain dental hygiene for your pet. This includes cleaning, brushing, scaling, polishing, extractions, and reconstructions.
- Dental health care, however if injury to teeth is caused by an accident, we do cover the cost of extraction and/or reconstruction of damaged teeth.
- Claims in any way arising from the lack of use and/or implementation of preventive healthcare products and/or methods when such products and/or methods would be in accordance with generally accepted veterinary standards. Routine healthcare includes: vaccinations, flea control, heartworm medication, de-worming, dental care, ear plucking, grooming, and prudent regular care.
If you’re worried about your pet’s dental coverage, Nationwide isn’t the most comprehensive choice because it lists many related exclusions.
- Diagnosis or treatment for: (1) removal or treatment of deciduous (baby) teeth; (2) cosmetic dental restoration including veneers, crowns, caps or other prosthetic devices; (3) temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disease; (4) enamel hypoplasia; (5) gingivitis; or (6) tooth hygiene or appearance including teeth cleaning and polishing .
Nationwide offers two wellness plans, but neither includes dental cleaning like most competitors do.
PetFirst has more detail about dental coverage in its sample policy than some of its competitors.
- Dental illness is an illness affecting the teeth and/or gums.
- Accidents resulting in dental trauma.
- Treatment required due to dental illness and injury, subject to policy limitations and exclusions.
- Endodontic treatment for dental injuries, such as root canals and crowns, where deemed medically necessary by our medical director.
- Veterinary treatment for dental illness as specified below:
- Toothbrushes, toothpastes, dental foods, chews, rinses, or preventive dental care, including prophylaxis, at any time or for any reason.
- Open or closed deep cleaning at any time or for any reason.
- Removal of deciduous teeth.
PetFirst offers five wellness plans that include $50, $100, or $150 to go toward teeth cleaning.
Petplan’s sample policy doesn’t discuss many dental illnesses or injuries, which could be good or bad. We’d recommend asking specifically about what types of coverage you can expect for your pet concerning teeth and other dental needs.
- In consideration of the premium charged, it is hereby agreed that, as a condition of this insurance, you must take care of your pet and arrange and pay for your pet to have the following:
- An annual examination by a veterinarian.
- An annual dental exam.
- Any treatment normally suggested by a veterinarian to prevent illness or injury.
- Routine and preventive care, including but not limited to: dental prophylaxis.
How To Choose The Best Pet Insurance?
Dental coverage is important to you, but it shouldn’t be the only thing on your mind. Pets can experience other accidents and illnesses throughout their lives that you want to have coverage for as well.
We suggest you keep the following criteria in mind when choosing a pet insurance provider:
- Policy Coverage & Claim Repayment: Use our helpful comparison table to review what each pet insurance provider covers and excludes, and their average claim repayment.
- Customer Service & Reputation: Read the pros and cons listed for each pet insurance company, comments on our pet insurance content, and about each company’s BBB rating and reviews.
- Price: Gather quotes for your pet from top pet insurance companies using our quote form.
Remember, you know your dog better than anyone else, so only you can make this decision. However, we can help you become more informed and navigate this tricky subject. If you have any questions about pet insurance, please post them in the comments, and we’re happy to help.
What do you feel is the most important factor in choosing a pet insurance provider?
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