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Home DOG GROOMING How Much Does Dog Teeth Cleaning Cost?

How Much Does Dog Teeth Cleaning Cost?

by Bella Woof

We normalize “dog breath,” but that smell can actually be a sign of illness. Bad breath in dogs stems from an overgrowth of bacteria that release foul-smelling compounds that can damage the gums. The gums can become inflamed as gingivitis develops, eventually leading to dental disease.

But there is good news: gingivitis can be prevented. and reversible. The best way to prevent dental disease is to have your pet’s teeth cleaned and examined regularly by your veterinarian. This cleaning removes plaque and tartar above and below the gum line, treats gingivitis and gives your dog a great smelling mouth.

Here’s what you need to know about how much dog teeth cleaning costs and why canine dental care is so important.

How much does dog teeth cleaning cost?

The cost of a dental procedure varies widely across the country and depends on the services provided (for example, tooth extractions increase the cost of cleaning them) and who is providing them (a general practitioner or a veterinary dentist).

Both General Practice Veterinarians and Board Certified Veterinary Dentists (DAVDCs) can provide quality dental care. Veterinary Dentists, who are members of the American Veterinary Dental College, are multi-year residency veterinarians with full-time training in dentistry, pain management, X-ray and CT interpretation, and anesthesia. This allows them to provide the best care.

Dental cleanings with general practitioners can range from $250-$900, which may or may not include extractions. Veterinary dentists generally cost more based on their advanced training, equipment, and anesthesia. A typical service with x-rays, exams, and cleanings begins in $800-$1,300. Nerve blocks, extractions, medications, advanced imaging like CT scans, and root canals will add to the price.

You may seek or be referred to a veterinary dentist if your dog has underlying health problems, needs a root canal, requires cancer removal, has a less common disease, or needs advanced anesthesia.

What does a dog’s dental cleaning include?

The cost of cleaning a dog’s teeth generally includes:

  • Anesthesia: The dog is safely placed under anesthesia via sedation and a tracheal breathing tube is placed. Anesthesia is the safest method of keeping water out of the airways, is not stressful or painful, and allows for a complete examination and treatment.

  • Oral exam: A tooth-by-tooth examination is performed, including measurement of the gum pocket for periodontal health; check for fractured teeth, cavities and loose teeth; and evaluate other oral structures.

  • Scaled and polished: Scaling removes plaque and tartar above and below the gum line and is always followed by polishing to smooth the surface of the teeth.

  • Dental X-rays: Dental x-rays show the roots of the teeth, the bone and tissue around the roots, the pulp canal inside the tooth, and the jaw bones.

Sometimes dental X-rays are optional. However, they are necessary to fully evaluate the teeth, as they can show your vet any bone loss, dead teeth, oral cancers, infections, or cysts. Taking x-rays before and after dental extractions is the standard of care. The time it adds to anesthesia is negligible compared to the benefit it provides.

additional costs

Prior to anesthesia, your vet will perform a blood test on your pet to assess internal organ function, red and white blood cells, and platelet count. This cost may or may not be included in the dental procedure and ranges from $75-$200.

If the teeth are too diseased to be saved and are a source of inflammation or discomfort to your pet, they will be removed at additional cost (which can be as much as $400 per tooth). Additional costs for tooth extraction depend on the size of the tooth, the type of extraction needed, the number of teeth to be removed, and the additional surgery time.

How often do dogs need their teeth cleaned?

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) recommends that a dog’s first dental cleaning should be between 1 and 2 years for small and medium-sized dogs and between 2 and 3 years for large dogs.

Small dogs need cleaning every year. Their small mouths are prone to gingivitis and dental disease due to crowding (dogs have 42 teeth in those small mouths!). Brachycephalic dogs (flat-faced breeds like Pugs, French Bulldogs, and Boston Terriers) are also prone to more advanced disease due to their abnormal bites and crowded teeth. Larger dogs can usually go 1.5-2 years between cleanings, but still need to have their mouths examined at their annual checkups.

Signs that your dog needs a professional cleaning include:

  • Bad breath

  • Bleeding, redness, or swelling of the gums

  • Having difficulty picking up food

  • Dropping food while eating

  • Loose tooth

Does pet insurance cover dog teeth cleaning costs?

Not all pet insurance policies will cover dental costs. If your pet was diagnosed with dental disease prior to purchasing the policy, the procedure may be excluded as a pre-existing condition. Root canals and extractions can also vary from policy to policy. Make sure you know your coverage before scheduling a dental procedure, as most policies don’t reimburse pet owners until after the procedure.

How to save money on cleaning your dog’s teeth

1. Schedule cleanings in advance

Starting dental cleanings when your pup is young is a long-term investment, both financially and in his oral health. It’s safer (and cheaper) in the long run to have multiple dental cleanings than to have an expensive procedure on an older animal that needs extensive treatment. Don’t be afraid to ask your vet at your annual exam when your pet is due. And if your pet has an annual blood work checked, try to schedule your dental procedure in the same month to avoid additional blood work cost.

2. Start preventive care at home

You can lengthen the time between your dog’s dental cleanings (and save money!) by brushing his teeth. If your dog can’t tolerate a toothbrush, there are options like dental diets, chews, sprays, and water additives that can help keep his teeth clean and healthy.

3. Find the right pet insurance plan

If you are shopping for pet insurance, find out what dental coverage is or if it will be excluded as a pre-existing condition on an older pet. Each policy offers different benefits.

Some vets offer discounts in February for Pet Dental Health Month or include cleanings in annual wellness plans. Your vet may also work with third party financing options.

4. DO NOT run out of anesthesia

Non-anesthetic or “awake” dental cleanings do not treat dental disease and are not safe for pets. They may be cheaper, but they don’t remove plaque or tartar below the gum line, they can’t treat disease, and they’re stressful for your pet. The AAHA and AVDC do not recommend or endorse these procedures, and the short-term lure of a cheaper fee will cost you and your pet in the long run.

Featured image: iStock/skynesher


Mallory Kanwal, DVM, DAVDC


Dr. Mallory Kanwal is from Ohio and attended The Ohio State University for her undergraduate degree and then attended veterinary school…

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