Understanding Dental Implants As a Vegan

15 June 2020
 Categories: Dentist, Blog


If you are in need of a dental implant, you may be surprised to learn that many of the bone grafts that are used to prepare the jawbone are made from animal bones. Some vegans may be uncomfortable with the concept of animal bone in an implant. Here are the things you need to understand and discuss with your dentist if you are a vegan getting ready for an implant. 

Not All Implants Require Bone Grafting 

Bone grafting is one of the first steps for many implants. However, it is not done all the time. Bone grafting is required when your jaw bone is too thin or weak to hold an implant or if the place where you lost your tooth is not the right size for an implant. Your best chance at avoiding a graft is to go in for your implant as soon as possible because the bone deteriorates each day you put the procedure off.

However, you should keep in mind that some people have to have a graft even if they get the implant placed the day they have their tooth extracted. Through dental imaging, your dentist can tell you the likelihood of needing a graft. However, sometimes the situation is not completely clear until you are in surgery. Because of this, it is important to discuss your preferences regarding grafting material even if it seems unlikely you will need a graft.  

Several Materials May Be Used 

Grafting material choices may include human bone, equine bone, and synthetic material. Unfortunately, the type of graft you need, as opposed to your preferences, will often determine which material your dentist uses. Human bone is usually used for socket grafts, lateral ridge preservation, and block bone grafts. Sometimes these grafts will use bone from your own body, and other grafts will use cadaver bone. Sinus lift grafts usually require equine bone, since they need the extra support of the stronger bone material. 

Occasionally, you will have a choice of graft material, so it is important to let your dentist know which material you prefer. 

Your Own Bone Has Some Benefits 

Using your own bone in a graft has a few key benefits. First, there is almost no risk of rejection since the bone comes from your own body. Second, the bone can be placed while still living, which can increase the healing and success rates of the procedure. Animal and cadaver bones are thoroughly cleaned, sterilized, and frozen, which means they no longer have regenerative properties. 

Using Your Own Bone May Be More Expensive 

While using bone from another part of your body may be the best option for some types of grafts, it can often be considerably more expensive than other materials. The additional procedure of removing the bone will cost more money, and sometimes there is a short hospital stay associated with collecting the material, depending on where it is taken from and how much is needed. If you can afford this or your insurance covers it, try this option. 

Alternatives to Grafting 

If your graft will not be successful without an animal donor, you may choose alternative dental procedures to preserve the functionality of your teeth and your appearance. Although not as strong as implants, various types of bridges and dentures may better fit your needs as a vegan. 

Communication With Your Dentist Is Key 

The most important thing to remember when planning a dental procedure is to communicate with your dentist often and clearly. During your first assessment, you should let your dentist know you are a vegan and would prefer to avoid animal grafting. Additionally, let your dentist know if you are not comfortable with human cadaver grafts. This information may affect the dentist's planning. To learn more about your dental implant options, contact a dentist near you.