Dental cleaning in pets: Why is it so expensive?

Dental cleaning

A professional dental cleaning for pets isn’t cheap, but there’s a reason!  This week I will discuss what is included in the cost and why it may cost more to have your pet’s teeth cleaned than it does to clean your own.

Let’s face it most people don’t let their teeth get this bad before going to the dentist!   In addition, most people brush their teeth twice daily and visit their dentist every 6 months for a dental cleaning.  In comparison, pets rarely get their teeth brushed, if ever, and may only receive a professional dental cleaning every few years.  So, the obvious reason pet dentistry is more expensive is that it takes more time to perform a dental cleaning when the teeth are this bad.  In addition, there are usually extractions that need to be done which takes even longer.

Last time I went to the dentist, I was charged for an exam fee, the dental cleaning and dental x-rays which cost me around $175.00.  A dental cleaning for your pet can range anywhere from $250.00 – $500.00 depending on the amount of tartar and damage that has occurred due to the lack of care. 

Here what’s involved in cleaning your pet’s cleaning

  1. Blood work:  Blood work needs to be performed to insure that your pet’s organs are functioning properly before anesthesia.  Most veterinarians have the necessary equipment in their hospital so blood work can be performed the day of the procedure.
  2. Intravenous catheter and anesthesia monitoring:  An intravenous catheter allows fluid administration during the procedure dental cleaningand allows easy access to the bloodstream  if there are any complications.  Your pet will be monitored with a variety of equipment, such as blood pressure and EKG to ensure safety during anesthesia.
  3. Ultrasonic cleaning and high-speed drill:  Because of the amount of tartar buildup, the veterinarian must use an ultrasonic cleaner to remove debris from your pet’s teeth.  This equipment also allows us to clean below the gum line.  Not all veterinarians have a high-speed drill but this is necessary for surgical extraction of teeth and root canals.
  4. Dental x-ray:  Full mouth x-rays should be performed on every patient receiving a dental cleaning.  70% of the tooth is below the gum line and can not dental cleaningbe seen by the human eye and pets are unable to tell us what tooth is hurting.  Unfortunately, not every veterinarian has this equipment because the average cost of a high-speed drill and x-ray equipment is about $20,000.00.
  5. Polishing:  Removal of dental tartar with an ultrasonic cleaner leaves small scratches and abrasions on the tooth.   Polishing smooth’s out these scratches and helps prevent additional tartar build up.

You can decrease the cost of your pet’s dental cleaning by brushing your pet’s teeth daily and providing daily dental chews and toys to prevent tartar build up.  Regular dental cleanings, when recommended by your veterinarian, will help prevent advanced dental disease and loss of teeth which requires more time and money. 







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