How much does cat teeth cleaning cost?
Ashburn, VA

How much does cat teeth cleaning cost?

Ashburn, VA

How much does cat teeth cleaning cost?

$560 – $1,100average cost without tooth extractions
$600 – $2,000+average cost with tooth extractions

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:

$560 – $1,100 average cost without tooth extractions

$600 – $2,000+ average cost with tooth extractions


Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:
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Ellen Russell, DVM, MPH
Written by
Ellen Russell, DVM, MPH
Edited by
Kristen Cramer
Fact-checked by
Tara Farmer

Cat teeth cleaning cost

The cost of cat teeth cleaning is $600 to $2,000+ on average, including a comprehensive oral exam with a veterinarian, anesthesia, dental x-rays, teeth scaling and polishing, and tooth extractions if needed. Cat teeth cleaning costs depend on the severity of your cat's dental tartar and disease.

Cat teeth cleaning cost with anesthesia
Procedure Average cost
Initial consultation and oral exam $60 – $100
Pre-surgical bloodwork $100 – $200
Dental radiographs (x-rays) $200 – $400
Anesthesia, tooth scaling, and polishing $200 – $400
Tooth extractions (if needed) $40 – $100 per tooth
Average total cost $600 – $2,000+

If any of your cat's teeth need to be removed because of severe dental disease, your veterinarian will recommend extracting the teeth during the dental procedure. The price of the procedure can increase dramatically if your cat requires multiple tooth extractions.

A veterinarian examining a cat's teeth for dental issues
A veterinarian examining a cat's teeth for dental issues
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What happens during a cat teeth cleaning procedure?

Oral exam & pre-surgical bloodwork

Before the dental cleaning, your veterinarian will examine your cat's mouth to look for tartar, gingivitis, and loose teeth. They will also check for signs that teeth may have more significant problems, such as unusual wear, infection, gum recession, and oral tumors.

This appointment usually occurs a few days or weeks before the dental cleaning. Your veterinarian will also perform bloodwork to evaluate organ function and screen for abnormalities to ensure your cat is healthy enough to undergo anesthesia.

Anesthesia

Unlike humans, cats must be anesthetized to clean their teeth. Cats will not tolerate working on their mouth if they are awake, and it is impossible to tell a cat to “open wider” or “stick out your tongue” during a dental cleaning.

Anesthesia is required and is one of the primary reasons the cost of having a cat's teeth cleaned can be more expensive than pet owners anticipate.

A veterinarian cleaning a cat's teeth while the cat is under anesthesia
A veterinarian cleaning a cat's teeth while the cat is under anesthesia

Teeth cleaning & polishing

Veterinarians use standard dental tools to remove plaque and calculus—also called tartar—from the surface of your cat's teeth and beneath the gum line. Removing the plaque and tartar ensures there is no place for bacteria to replicate and cause pain or infection.

After scaling, the veterinarian will polish your cat's teeth to smooth out the surface. Smoothing the teeth's surface removes tiny ridges that would otherwise provide a breeding ground for bacteria.

Radiographs (X-rays)

Your veterinarian will perform x-rays of your cat's teeth to visualize the part of the tooth below the gums. A large portion of a cat's tooth lies under the gums and includes essential structures like the tooth root and surrounding upper or lower jawbone.

Dental x-rays are necessary for a comprehensive cat tooth cleaning. Without x-rays, tooth disease under the gums cannot be detected. If these problems are missed during the procedure, it could lead to painful tooth issues and the need for additional anesthetized dental procedures in the future.

Tooth extraction

Because it's impossible to determine the full extent of dental disease while your cat is awake, the vet may not know if any tooth extractions should be recommended until the teeth cleaning procedure is underway. Always be available for a phone call during the procedure in case your vet finds something they weren't expecting.

If plaque and tartar build up on your cat's teeth, the surrounding bone and tissues can become damaged over time—a conditional called periodontal disease. If your cat's dental disease is very advanced, the vet will recommend tooth removal to prevent infection and pain.

Why do cats need their teeth cleaned?

Maintaining your cat's dental hygiene is vital to ensuring their overall health. Cats can have various oral health issues besides tartar and plaque build-up, including tooth resorption and gingivostomatitis—an inflammation of the gums and moist tissue in the mouth.

Poor dental health in cats can lead to serious health issues, such as:

  • Pain – Dental plaque and calculus can cause severe gum inflammation (gingivitis), infection, and loose teeth, leading to poor appetite and reluctance to eat.

  • Organ damage – Bacteria in the mouth can spread to vital organs, including the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys. Chronic infections and inflammation in these organs can result in costly and time-consuming treatments and may shorten your cat's lifespan.

  • Tooth loss – The structures that keep teeth attached to your cat's mouth can degrade with prolonged inflammation and infection, leading to loose teeth that eventually fall out.

A pet owner brushing a cat's teeth
A pet owner brushing a cat's teeth

What is the aftercare for cat teeth cleaning?

Aftercare for a teeth cleaning depends on whether your cat had teeth removed. Aftercare is easier for cats that do not have extractions because they generally do not require much change to their schedule or post-operative medications.

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  • Recovery from anesthesia – Because of the effects of anesthesia, your cat will feel sleepier and a little groggy for about a day. It's important to keep them in a comfortable and quiet environment while they recover.

  • Antibiotics and pain medications – Your vet will typically prescribe antibiotics and pain medications for 7 to 14 days after a dental procedure with tooth extractions. Medicating cats after a dental procedure can be difficult because their mouth hurts. If you cannot give your cat oral medication, tell your veterinarian so they can prescribe an alternative treatment plan.

  • Feeding a soft diet – Feed your cat a wet food diet for 7 to 14 days after a dental procedure with tooth extractions. If your cat will not eat wet food, water down their dry food to make it softer.

  • Monitoring for complications – Watch your cat closely for signs of post-operative complications, such as bloody saliva lasting more than a day, reluctance to eat, bad breath, or swelling around the mouth or eyes.

  • Recheck appointment – Most veterinarians recommend a recheck appointment 10 to 14 days after the teeth cleaning.

Cat teeth cleaning FAQs

How often do cats need their teeth cleaned by a veterinarian?

Veterinarians recommend a complete teeth cleaning about once a year on average. However, every cat is different. Some cats are less predisposed to developing gingivitis and dental disease, while others develop problems at a very young age due to genetics, viruses, or other factors.

An at-home dental care plan will significantly improve your cat's oral health, and they will require less frequent professional dental cleanings.

How do I know if my cat needs a teeth cleaning?

Common signs that your cat may need a dental cleaning are:

  • Bad breath

  • Visible tartar on their teeth

  • Loose teeth or broken teeth

  • Going to the bowl

  • Difficulty eating- dropping food out of their mouth, having trouble chewing their food

  • Reluctance to be touched around their face or mouth

  • Poor appetite, especially for dry food

  • Excessive drooling or bloody drool

  • Poor grooming – matted and greasy fur can occur when cats stop grooming themselves due to mouth pain

Cats are notoriously secretive about their pain and discomfort, and it is not easy to look in their mouths. The best way to know if your cat should have their teeth cleaned is to ask your veterinarian. Discuss your cat's oral hygiene with your veterinarian at every annual appointment.

Can a cat's teeth be cleaned without anesthesia?

No, cats typically will not allow anyone to clean their teeth while they are awake, so anesthesia is necessary for a thorough cleaning. Anesthesia-free dentistry also comes with other risks:

  • Your cat will be much more uncomfortable and may experience pain during a procedure without anesthesia.

  • The veterinarian will be unable to do x-rays and a thorough cleaning without anesthetizing your cat, meaning dental issues may go undetected and lead to further damage, infections, and pain.

  • An anesthesia-free teeth cleaning procedure does not include polishing. Tooth scaling leaves grooves in your cat's teeth where more bacteria are likely to grow if the teeth are not polished and smoothed.

Can cat teeth be cleaned at home?

A professional teeth cleaning performed by your veterinarian is the only way to remove all the accumulated plaque and tartar on your cat's teeth. However, an at-home dental routine will help prevent tartar buildup and increase the time between teeth cleanings with your vet.

  • Brush your cat's teeth – Daily toothbrushing is the best way to prevent tartar in your cat's mouth. Keep these details in mind:

    • You must use cat toothpaste, as human toothpaste contains ingredients harmful to cats if swallowed.

    • Different styles of cat toothbrushes exist, including miniature-sized human toothbrushes, or brushes that fit over your index finger. However, if your cat does not tolerate these methods, you can simply use a piece of gauze with toothpaste to rub over the surface of your cat's teeth.

  • Use veterinarian-approved dental products – The Veterinary Oral Health Council has compiled a list of cat dental products, including dental treats, diets, wipes, and water additives that effectively slow down plaque and tartar buildup.

Is feeding dry food better for my cat's teeth?

Though veterinarians have recommended dry food for years, recent research has shown that feeding dry food to cats does not significantly slow down plaque and tartar buildup.

Because of the shape of their teeth and how cats chew their food, feeding dry food does not appear to benefit their oral health specifically. Current findings suggest that incorporating wet food into your cat's diet can have other health benefits, especially for their kidneys.


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