Open Access Articles- Top Results for Glass ionomer cement

Glass ionomer cement

A glass ionomer cement (GIC) is a dental restorative material used in dentistry for dental fillings and luting cements. These materials are based on the reaction of silicate glass powder and polyalkenoic acid, an ionomer. These tooth-coloured materials were introduced in 1972 for use as restorative materials for anterior teeth (particularly for eroded areas, Class III and V cavities).

As they bond chemically to dental hard tissues and release fluoride for a relatively long period, modern day applications of GICs have expanded. The desirable properties of glass ionomer cements make them useful materials in the restoration of carious lesions in low-stress areas such as smooth-surface and small anterior proximal cavities in primary teeth. Results from clinical studies do not support the use of conventional or metal-reinforced glass ionomer restorations in primary molars, due to higher occlusal stress loads. However, use of glass ionomers in molar teeth is common as cementing, luting or basing materials may be used in temporary to intermediate term restorations in children and adults, particularly in difficult and dentally compromised cases and for medically compromised and elderly patients.


Chemical classification

Glass is a non-crystalline material typically containing silicon. An ionomer is a polymer that comprises repeat units of both electrically neutral repeating units and a fraction of ionized units covalently bonded to the polymer backbone as pendant moieties. GICs mix the two.

GICs are commonly classified into five principal types:

  • Conventional glass ionomer cements (low- and high-viscosity)
  • Resin modified glass ionomer cements (conventional with addition of HEMA)
  • Hybrid ionomer cements (also known as dual-cured glass ionomer cements)
  • Tri-cure glass ionomer cements
  • Metal-reinforced glass ionomer cements

Conventional glass ionomer cements

Conventional GlCs were first introduced in 1972 by Wilson and Kent. They are derived from aqueous polyalkenoic acid such as polyacrylic acid and a glass component that is usually a fluoroaluminosilicate. When the powder and liquid are mixed together, an acid-base reaction occurs.

The low/high viscosity distinction

"High-viscosity GIC" materials are known to share a higher powder—liquid ratio (>3:1) in comparison to "low-viscosity GICs". However, this material characteristic alone may not suffice for definition, as the mere increase of powder to liquid ratio renders the resulting material unsatisfactory for handling abilities. Nonetheless, no such adverse effect was reported for glass-ionomers labelled as "high-viscosity" in comparison to "low-viscosity" GIC. Instead, a higher success rate was noted for restorations placed with "high-viscosity" glass-ionomer cements than for "low-viscosity" glass-ionomer cements when both types of GICs were compared against conventional amalgam restorations.[1] On the basis of such empirical evidence, it seems reasonable to assume that the GIC labelled "high-viscosity" share other so far non-disclosed/unknown characteristics than a mere higher powder liquid ratio, which made them clinically superior to GICs labelled as "low-viscosity". The "low-viscosity"/"high-viscosity" GIC distinction can thus currently not be accepted on basis of characteristics in GIC chemistry, alone, but primarily on clinical outcomes achieved.[2]

Resin modified glass ionomer cements

File:Restorative materials.png
Glass ionomer cement - composite resin spectrum of restorative materials used in dentistry. Towards the GIC end of the spectrum, there is increasing fluoride release and increasing acid-base content; towards the composite resin end of the spectrum, there is increasing light cure percentage and increased flexural strength.

Resin modified glass ionomer cements are conventional glass ionomer cements with addition of HEMA and photoinitiators.

Hybrid ionomer cements or resin-modified glass ionomers or dual-cured GIC

These combine an acid-base reaction of the traditional glass ionomer with a self-cure amine-peroxide polymerization reaction. These light-cured systems have been developed by adding polymerizable functional methacrylate groups with a photo-initiator to the formulation. Such materials undergo both an acid-base ionomer reaction as well as curing by photo-initiation and self cure of methacrylate carbon double bonds; or, in other words, their acid-base reactions are supplemented by a second resin polymerization initiated (usually) by a light-curing process. For this reason they are also called Dual-Cured GIC. Developed in 1992, the resin-modified glass ionomer cements in their simplest form are glass ionomer cements that contain a small quantity of a water-soluble, polymerizable resin component. More complex materials have been developed by modifying the polyalkenoic acid with side chains that could polymerize by light-curing mechanisms in the presence of photo initiators, but they remain glass ionomer cements by their ability to set by means of the acid-base reaction.

Modern resin modified glass ionomer cements include Geristore, Advance, GC Fuji PLUS[3] and Vitremer Luting. More recent developments in this field include the paste-paste resin modified GIC luting cements such as GC FujiCEM.[4]

Tri-cure glass ionomer cements

Some systems have also incorporated a chemical curing tertiary amine-peroxide reaction to polymerize the methacrylate double bonds along with the photo-initiation and acid-base ionic reaction. These materials are known as tri-cure glass ionomer cements. The chemical cure component of tri-cure cements has been shown to have a significant effect on their overall strength. Photo-initiated cements cannot be used in cases involving opaque structures such as metal substrates. The resin-modified glass ionomer cements generally have a much lower release of fluoride than the conventional glass ionomer materials.

Metal-reinforced glass ionomer cements or cermets

Metal-reinforced glass ionomer cements were first introduced in 1977. The addition of silver-amalgam alloy powder to conventional materials increased the physical strength of the cement and provided radiodensity. Subsequently, silver particles were sintered onto the glass, and a number of products then appeared where the amalgam alloy content had been fixed at a level claimed to produce optimum mechanical properties for a glass cermet cement. Nowadays these materials are considered old-fashioned, as the conventional glass ionomer cements have comparable physical properties and far better aesthetics.

The clinical performance of cermet cements is considered to be inferior to other restorative materials, so much so that their use is now discouraged.

Composition and preparation

Application involves mixtures of a powder and a liquid. The type of application prescribes the viscosity of the cement, which is adjusted by varying the particle size distribution and the powder-to-liquid ratio.

GIC powder

The powder is an acid-soluble calcium fluoroaluminosilicate glass similar to that of silicate but with a higher alumina-silicate ratio that increases its reactivity with liquid. The fluoride portion acts as a “ceramic flux”. Lanthanum, Strontium, Barium or Zinc Oxide additives provide radioopacity. The raw materials are fused to form a uniform glass by heating them to temperatures of 1100°C to 1500°C. The glass is ground into a powder having particles into a powder in the range of 15 to 50 µm. Typical percentages of the raw materials are:

  • Silica 41.9%
  • Alumina 28.6%
  • Aluminium Fluoride 1.6%
  • Calcium Fluoride 15.7%
  • Sodium Fluoride 9.3%
  • Aluminium Phosphate 3.8%

GIC liquid

The liquids for GIC were aqueous solutions of polyacrylic acid in a concentration of about 40 to 50%. The liquid was quite viscous and tended to gel over time. In most of the current cements, the acid is in the form of co-polymer with itaconic, maleic, or tricarboxylic acids. These acids tend to increase the reactivity of the liquid, decrease the viscosity and reduce the tendency for gelation. Tartaric acid is also present in the liquid. It improves handling characteristics and increases the working time, but it shortens the setting time. The viscosity of tartaric acid–containing cement does not generally change over the shelf life of the cement. However, a viscosity change can occur if the cement is out of date. As a means of extending the working time of the GIC, freeze-dried polyacid powder and glass powder are placed in the same bottle as the powder. The liquid consists of water or water with Tartaric Acid. When the powders are mixed with water, the acid powder dissolves to reconstitute the liquid acid and this process is followed by the acid-base reaction. This type of cement is referred to occasionally as water settable glass ionomer, or erroneously as anhydrous glass ionomer.

Setting reaction

The setting reaction is an acid-base reaction between the acidic polyelectrolyte and the aluminosilicate glass. The polyacid attacks the glass particles (also called leaching) to release cations and Fluoride ions. These ions probably metal fluoride complexes react with Polyanions to form a salt gel matrix. The Al3+ ions appear to be site bound resulting matrix resistance to flow, unlike the zinc Polyacrylate matrix. During the initial setting in the main is first 3 hours Calcium ions react with polycarboxylate chains.

Subsequently, the trivalent aluminum ions react for at least 48 hours. Between 20 and 30% of the glass is decomposed by the proton attack. The fluoride and phosphate ions are insoluble salts and complexes. The sodium ions form a silica gel. The structure of the fully set cement is a composite of glass particles surrounded by silica gel in a matrix of Polyanions cross-linked by ionic bridges. Within the matrix are small particles of Silica gel containing fluorite crystallites.

Glass ionomer cements bond chemically to dentine and enamel during the setting process. The mechanism of bonding appears to involve an ionic interaction with Calcium and/or Phosphate ions from the surface of the enamel or dentine. Bonding is more effective with a cleaned surface provided cleaning does not remove an excessive amount of calcium ions. Treating dentine with an acidic conditioner followed by a dilute solution of ferric chloride improves the bonding. The cleansing agent removes the smear layer of dentine while the Fe3+ ions are deposited and increase the ionic interaction between the cement and dentin. Also, as the initial Calcium cross-links are replaced by Aluminium cross-links, most sodium and fluoride ions do not participate in the cross linking of the cement, however some Sodium ions may replace the hydrogen ions of carboxylic groups whereas the remaining ions are dispersed uniformly within the set cement along with fluoride ions. The cross linked phase hydrates over time with the same water used for mixing. This process is called “maturation”.

The unreacted portion of the glass particles are sheathed by a silica gel that develops during the removal of cations from the surface of the particles. Thus the set cement contains an agglomeration of unreacted powder particles surrounded by a silica gel in an amorphous matrix of hydrated calcium and aluminum polysalts. Water plays a critical role in the setting of GIC. It serves as the reaction medium initially and then slowly hydrates the cross linked agents thereby yielding stable gel structure that is stronger and less susceptible to moisture contamination. If freshly mixed cements are exposed to ambient air without any protective covering the surface will craze and crack as a result of desiccation. Any contamination by water that occurs at this stage can cause dissolution of the matrix-forming cations and anions to the surrounding areas. Both desiccation and contamination are water changes in the structure during placement and for a few weeks after placement may possible.


To achieve long lasting restorations and retentive fixed prostheses, the following manipulative considerations for GIC must be satisfied:

  1. Surface of the prepared tooth must be clean and dry
  2. The consistency of the mixed cement must allow complete coating of the surface irregularities and complete seating of prostheses
  3. Excess cement must be removed at the appropriate time
  4. The surface must be finished without excessive drying
  5. Protection of the restoration surface must be ensured to prevent cracking or dissolution.

The conditions are similar for luting applications, except that no surface finishing is needed.


Setting time

GlC sets within 6–8 minutes from the start of mixing, setting time is lesser for Type I materials than Type II materials. The setting can be slowed when the cement is mixed on a cold slab but this technique has an adverse effect on strength.

  • GIC Type 1: 5–7 minutes
  • GIC Type 2: within 10 minutes

Film thickness

The film thickness of GICs is similar to or less than that of zinc phosphate cement and is suitable for cementation and luting.


Conventional glass ionomer cements are tooth-coloured and available in different shades. Although the addition of resin in the modified materials has further improved their translucency, they are still rather opaque and not as esthetic as composite-resins. In addition, surface finish is usually not as good. The colour of resin-modified materials has been reported to vary with the finishing and polishing techniques used. Potential also exists for increased body discolouration and surface staining because of their hydrophilic monomers and incomplete polymerization. Nevertheless, the demand for esthetics in the primary dentition is usually lower than in the permanent dentition.

Water sensitivity, solubility and disintegration

Like silicates the initial solubility is high (0.4%) due to leaching of intermediate products. The complete setting reaction takes place in 24 hours there the cement should be protected from saliva in mouth during this period. GIC are also more resistant to attack by organic acids. Conventional glass ionomer restorations are hence also difficult to manipulate as they are sensitive to moisture imbibition during the early setting reaction and to desiccation as the materials begin to harden. Although it was believed that the occurrence of the resin polymerization in the modified materials reduces the early sensitivity to moisture, studies have shown that the properties of the materials changed markedly with exposure to moisture. Whether it is necessary to place protective covering on resin-modified glass ionomer restorations remains controversial.


By bonding a restorative material to tooth structure, the cavity is theoretically sealed, protecting the pulp, eliminating secondary caries and preventing leakage at the margins. This also allows cavity forms to be more conservative and, to some extent, reinforces the remaining tooth by integrating restorative material with the tooth structures. Bonding between the cement and dental hard tissues is achieved through an ionic exchange at the interface. Polyalkenoate chains enter the molecular surface of dental apatite, replacing phosphate ions. Calcium ions are displaced equally with the phosphate ions so as to maintain electrical equilibrium. This leads to the development of an ion-enriched layer of cement that is firmly attached to the tooth.

The shear bond strength of conventional glass ionomer cements to conditioned enamel and dentin is relatively low, varying from 3 to 7 MPa. However, this bond strength is more a measure of the tensile strength of the cement itself, since fractures are usually cohesive within the cement, leaving the enriched residue attached to the tooth. Comparisons between resin-modified glass ionomer cements and conventional materials reveal that the shear bond strength of the former is generally greater, but that they show very low bond strength to unconditioned dentin compared to conventional materials. Conditioning therefore plays a greater role in achieving effective bonding with the resin-modified glass ionomer cements. In addition, when the enamel surface is etched with phosphoric acid, the bond strength of the resin-modified materials is close to that of composite-resin bonded to etched enamel. This suggests, along with the effects of light-curing, that the bonding mechanism of resin-modified glass ionomer cements may be different from that of conventional materials.

Margin adaptation and leakage

CAUTION: While the following method works exceptionally well, care must be taken to avoid exposed pulp. It is possible to have an exposure into the pulp chamber that goes unnoticed due to lack of bleeding. While rare, this situation will usually result in severe post-operative pain due to insertion pressure being transmitted into the pulp chamber. The pulp is exquisitely sensitive to pressure in most cases. Occurrence of this phenomenon is an indication for pulpectomy as soon as possible.

Marginal adaptation is enhanced by placing a bulk of material in the cavity and then placing pressure on the surface of the material to force it into intimate contact with cavity walls. The most simple source of pressure is a gloved finger or thumb held with the maximum pressure tolerable to the patient and the operator. Care should be taken to avoid movement of the material during setting, and pressure should be maintained until the material has set to the point where it will not be deformed by the slight adhesion of the material to the glove upon removal of pressure. This method works exceptionally well with Fuji-IX in pre-capsulated form.

The coefficient of thermal expansion of conventional glass ionomer cements is close to that of dental hard tissues and has been cited as a significant reason for the good margin adaptation of glass ionomer restorations. Even though the shear bond strength of glass ionomer cements does not approach that of the latest dentin bonding agent, glass ionomer restorations placed in cervical cavities are very durable. Nevertheless, microleakage still occurs at margins. An in vitro study has shown that conventional glass ionomer cements were less reliable in sealing enamel margins than composite-resin. They also failed to eliminate dye penetration at the gingival margins. Although resin-modified glass ionomer cements show higher bond strength to dental hard tissues than conventional materials, they exhibit variable results in microleakage tests. Not all of them display significantly less leakage against enamel and dentin than their conventional counterparts. This may be partly because their coefficient of thermal expansion is higher than conventional materials, though still much less than composite-resins. Controversy also exists as to whether the slight polymerization shrinkage is significant enough to disrupt the margin seal.

Physical strengths

The main limitation of the glass ionomer cements is their relative lack of strength and low resistance to abrasion and wear. Conventional low-viscosity glass ionomer cements have low flexural strength but high modulus of elasticity, and are therefore very brittle and prone to bulk fracture. Some glass cermet cements are arguably stronger than conventional materials but their fracture resistance remains low. The resin-modified materials have been shown to have significantly higher flexural and tensile strengths and lower modulus of elasticity than the conventional materials. They are therefore more fracture-resistant but their wear resistance has not been much improved. In addition, their strength properties are still much inferior to those of composite-resins, and so should not be subject to undue occlusal load unless they are well supported by surrounding tooth structure.


The biocompatibility of glass ionomer cements is very important because they need to be in direct contact with enamel and dentin if any chemical adhesion is to occur. In an in vitro study, freshly mixed conventional glass ionomer cement was found to be cytotoxic, but the set cement had no effect on cell cultures. In another study, the pulpal response to glass ionomer cements in caries-free human premolars planned for extraction was examined. The result showed that although glass ionomer cement caused a greater inflammatory response than Zinc-Oxide Eugenol cement, the inflammation resolved spontaneously with no increase in reparative dentin formation. More recently, Snugs and others have even demonstrated dentin bridging in monkey teeth where mechanical exposures in otherwise healthy pulps were capped with a glass ionomer liner. Therefore, lining is normally not necessary under conventional glass ionomer restorations when there is no pulpal exposure. Concern has been raised regarding the biocompatibility of resin-modified materials since they contain unsaturated groups. A cell culture study revealed poor biocompatibility of a resin-modified liner. In contrast, Cox and others showed that a resin-modified glass ionomer cement did not impair pulp healing when placed on exposed pulps.

A systematic review of clinical studies found no difference between resin-modified glass-ionomers and calcium hydroxide cement in the inflammatory cell response after 30 days but still a 38% less inflammatory cell response after 60 days and a higher number of intact odontoblasts beneath restored cavities after 381 days with calcium hydroxide cement. Nonetheless, no difference in clinically identifiable pulp symptoms was found after two years.[5]

Anticariogenic effect by way of fluoride release

Many laboratory trials have studied the fluoride release of GIC in comparison to that of other materials. However, no systematic review with or without meta-analysis has been conducted. Results from one trial, with one of the longest follow-up periods, found that conventional GIC released cumulatively over five times more fluoride than compomer and over 21 times more than fluoride-containing composite resin after 12 months. The amount of fluoride released by GIC, during a 24-hour period one year after curing, was five to six times higher than that of either compomer or a fluoride-containing composite.[6]

Fluoride uptake in dental plaque

The absorption of fluoride from GIC into dental plaque has been compared to that from fluoride-containing composite resin in-situ.20 After 28 days plaque, accumulated around GIC restorations in enamel blocks carried by patients using removable intraoral appliances, contained over six times more fluoride than similar restorations with composite resin.[7] These findings are in line with the observed difference between GIC and fluoride-containing resin composite regarding the amount of fluoride released during a 24-hour period, in the laboratory.[6]

Fluoride uptake in hard tooth tissue

In contrast to the fluoride absorption into dental plaque, fluoride absorption from GIC into adjacent enamel has been observed to be only twice as high as that from fluoride-containing resin composite in-situ. However, in-situ measurements of enamel blocks restored with either material show that after 28 days, enamel adjacent to GIC contained more fluoride than enamel adjacent to composite contained.[7]

Remineralising effect

The comparatively higher fluoride uptake in enamel from GIC than from fluoride-releasing resin composite has been associated with a higher microhardness of enamel after 28 days. The measured Knoop hardness number was higher for enamel adjacent to GIC than for enamel adjacent to fluoride-containing resin composite.[7]

Caries-preventive effect—GIC compared with amalgam

The margins of single-surface GIC restorations in permanent teeth have been shown to have significantly less carious lesions after six years than the margins of similar teeth restored with amalgam. The difference between both materials regarding the numbers of carious lesions of multiple-surface GIC restorations in primary teeth after three years was not statistically significant but tended to favour GIC.[8] This trend was confirmed when the 3-year results were combined with data from an 8-year study[9] using meta-analysis.[8]

Clinical efficacy

Conventional glass ionomer cements may be classified into low- and high viscosity materials in accordance to their clinical success rates in comparison to that of traditional amalgam restorations (as gold standard). While the former perform significantly worse than amalgam, the later suggest in general no difference to amalgam in their clinical failure/survival rates.[1]

Traditional clinical opinion concerning glass ionomers has been primarily shaped by clinical 1-arm studies with low-viscosity materials that lack randomised comparison to a control intervention, i.e. amalgam as gold standard, as well as by mostly laboratory material investigations.

Results from these studies have to be regarded with caution and can even be misleading when:

  1. Extrapolation of clinical demerits from low-viscosity glass-ionomer cements are projected to that of high-viscosity materials;
  2. Clinical success/failure rates of different material types from unrelated clinical 1-arm studies are compared;
  3. Clinical merits are inferred from mere laboratory findings.

In light of the above selected individual studies have shown the various results

Clinical trials investigating the longevity of glass ionomer restorations in primary molars are mostly short-term studies of less than three years. The longest survival rates for glass ionomer restorations are in low stress areas such as Class III and Class V restorations. In an early study, Vlietstra and others reported that 75% of conventional glass ionomer restorations in primary molars were intact after one year, and that margin adaptation, contour and surface finish were all satisfactory. The longest clinical study has been conducted by Walls and others who compared conventional glass ionomer restorations with amalgam restorations in primary molars. Although they reported no significant difference in overall failure rates after two years, follow-up of the restorations up to five years showed that glass ionomer restorations had significantly inferior survival time to amalgam. The importance of long-term clinical studies should therefore not be overlooked.

Other short-term trials also show poor success rates of conventional glass ionomer restorations in primary molars. Ostlund and others compared Class II restorations of amalgam, composite-resin and glass ionomer cement in primary molars and reported a high failure rate for glass ionomer cement of 60% after one year. In contrast, the failure rates for amalgam and composite-resin restorations were eight and 16% respectively. Fuks and others compared the clinical performance of a glass ionomer cement with amalgam in Class II restorations in primary molars. Only nine of 101 glass ionomer restorations met all quality criteria after one year, whereas 90% of the amalgam restorations met all the evaluation criteria after three years. Papathanasiou and others investigated the mean survival time of different types of restorations in primary molars and found that the mean survival time for glass ionomer restorations was only 12 months compared to more than five years for stainless steel crowns and amalgam restorations.

In a recent study, the median survival time for Class II glass ionomer restorations in primary molars was also reported to be significantly shorter than for amalgam restorations. The results of these studies indicate that conventional glass ionomer cement is not an appropriate alternative to amalgam in the restoration of primary molars unless the teeth are expected to exfoliate in one or two years. Short-term clinical studies have shown that the performance of Class II glass cermet restorations in primary molars is significantly worse than conventional materials. Although Hickel and Voss2 found no significant difference in the cumulative failure rates between glass cermet and amalgam restorations in primary molars, they did find that the loss of anatomical form was more severe with glass cermet cement, concluding that amalgam should be preferred in restorations with occlusal stress.

Only limited data are available for resin-modified glass ionomer restorations in primary molars and they are mostly in the form of clinical experience or abstracts. The initial results show that these restorations perform better than conventional materials in short-term comparisons. Long-term trials would be required to confirm their efficacy. Until then, the choice of resin-modified glass ionomer restorations in primary molars remains a relatively empirical one and should therefore be restricted to cavities well supported by surrounding tooth structures, such as small Class I and Class II restorations. In cases where high occlusal load is expected, other alternatives such as amalgam or stainless steel crowns should be considered.


  • Inherent adhesion to tooth structure
  • High retention rate
  • Little shrinkage and good marginal seal
  • Fluoride release and hence carries inhibition
  • Biocompatible
  • Minimal cavity preparation required hence easy to use on children and suitable for use even in absence of skilled dental manpower and facilities (such as in ART)


  • Brittle
  • Soluble
  • Abrasive
  • Water sensitive during setting phase.
  • Some products release less fluoride than conventional GIC
  • Not inherently radiopaque though addition of radiodense additives such as barium can alter radiodensity
  • Less aesthetic than composite

Systematic review evidence from randomised clinical control trials (RCT)

When an updated systematic review[2] of randomised clinical control trials (RCT) appraised the restoration failure rates from direct, high-viscosity glass-ionomer restorations (GIC) placed using the atraumatic restorative treatment approach in direct comparison to that of conventional amalgam restorations (under condition of same dentition, cavity type and follow-up period) the following clinical outcomes were found:

For restorations placed in the permanent dentition:

  1. No difference in the failure rate of single-surface GIC and conventional amalgam restorations after one, two, three, five and six years;
  2. A 61% lower failure rate of single-surface GIC restorations than that of conventional amalgam restorations after four years;
  3. No difference in the failure rate of multiple-surface GIC and conventional amalgam restorations after one, two, three and four years;
  4. An 80% lower failure rate of multiple-surface GIC restorations than that of conventional amalgam restorations after two years.

For restorations placed in the primary dentition:

  1. No difference in the failure rate of single-surface GIC and conventional amalgam restorations after one and two years;
  2. A 32% lower failure rate of single-surface GIC restorations than that of conventional amalgam restorations after three years.
  3. No difference in the failure rate of multiple-surface GIC and conventional amalgam restorations placed in primary teeth, after two and three years.

The results, in some cases indicating significantly lower failure rates of GIC restorations than those of amalgam, need to be regarded with caution as the significance may be due to either play of chance, because of the low number of evaluated participants included, or to the risk difference (RD), comprising only a few percentage points.[10]


The general use-based classification of GICs is as follows:

  • Type I: For luting cements
  • Type II: For restorations
  • Type III: Liners and bases
  • Type IV: Fissure sealants
  • Type V: Orthodontic Cements
  • Type VI: Core build up
  • Type VII: Fluoride releasing
  • Type VIII: ART (atraumatic restorative technique)
  • Type IX: posterior restorative

Additionally GICs may be also used for:

  • Intermediate restorations
  • Adhesive cavity liners (sandwich technique)
  • ART (atraumatic restorative technique)
  • Restorations for deciduous teeth

The type of application prescribes the viscosity of the cement, which is adjusted by varying the particle size distribution and the powder-to-liquid ratio. The maximum particle size is 15 µm for luting agents and 50 µm for restorative cements.

As luting agents

Glass Ionomer Luting Cement is excellent for permanent cementation of crowns, bridges, veneers and other facings. It can be used as a liner under composites. It chemically bonds to dentine/enamel, precious metals and porcelain restorations. It has good translucency and universal yellow shade, with early high compressive strength. It releases fluoride ions and reduces sensitizing by giving a firm foundation for composites, pulp protection and insulation. It mechanically bonds to composite restorative materials. It reduces the incidence of micro-leakage when used to cement composite inlays or onlays. It is easy to mix with good flow properties. It is fast setting with low fill thickness and low viscosity. It reaches the neutral pH fast, following placement on the tooth. It is used for cementation of orthodontic bands.

Typical physical properties

  • Mixing time: 45 to 60 seconds
  • Setting time: 2 minutes
  • Working time: 2 minutes
  • Total time: 4.5 minutes at 23 °C

As orthodontic brackets adhesives

Currently the most commonly used adhesive for orthodontic bracket bonding are based on composite resin. However glass ionomer systems have certain advantages. They bond directly to tooth tissue by the interaction of polyacrylate ions and hydroxyapatite crystals, thereby avoiding acid etching. In addition they have anticariogenic effect due to their fluoride leaching ability.

The evidence from a systematic review of clinical trials suggests no difference in the failure rate between resin-modified GIC and resin based adhesive for orthodontic bracket bonding after 12 months but favours composite resin adhesives after a >14-month period.[11]

As pit and fissure sealants

Another suggested use of glass ionomer cements is as fissure sealants. The material is mixed to a more fluid consistency to allow flow into the depths of the pits and fissures of the posterior teeth. Early cements were found to be unsuitable for use as sealants if the fissures were less than 100µ meter wide. The large glass particles of cement prevented adequate penetration of fissures with a bur.

A systematic review of clinical trials identified no difference between the caries-preventive effects of GIC- and resin-based fissure sealants (as current gold standard).[12]

As liners and bases

GICs have a number of advantages as cavity lining as they bond to dentine and enamel and release fluoride which not only helps in prevent decay and therefore minimizing the chance of appearance of secondary carries, but also promote the formation of secondary dentine. They can be used beneath both composite resin and amalgam.

For core build up

Some dentists favour glass ionomers cements for cores, in view of the apparent ease of placement, adhesion, fluoride release, and matched coefficient of thermal expansion. Silver containing GICs (e.g. the cermet, Ketac Silver, Espe GMbH, Germany) or the "miracle mix" of GIC and unreacted amalgam alloy have been especially popular. Some believe the silver within the material enhances its physical and mechanical properties, however, in-vitro studies are equivocal and a study of a cermet used to fill deciduous teeth showed that it performed less well than a conventional GIC. In the days when many GICs were radiolucent, the addition of silver conferred radiopacity without which it would be difficult or impossible to diagnose secondary caries. Nowadays, many conventional GICs are radiopaque and are easier to handle than the silver containing materials. Nevertheless, many workers regard GICs as inadequately strong to support major core build-ups. Hence the recommendation that a tooth should have at least two structurally intact walls if a GIC core is to be considered. In our view it is best to regard GIC as excellent filler but a relatively weak build-up material. In order to protect a GIC core the crown margin should, wherever possible, completely embrace 1–2 mm of sound tooth structure cervically. Extension of the crown margin in this way is termed the 'ferrule effect' and should ideally be used for all cores.


  • Intrinsically adhesive
  • Fluoride release—but this does not guarantee freedom from 2° decay (Figure VIII)
  • Similar coefficient of thermal expansion to tooth


  • Considerably weaker than amalgam and composite
  • Tendency to crack worsened by early instrumentation
  • Silver containing materials offer little improvement in physical properties
  • Some materials radiolucent


  • Excellent filler but relies on having sufficient dentine to support crown
  • Where used as a build-up, best to leave tooth preparation until next appointment
  • Good material on which to bond restorations with resin cement

For intermediate restorations

Because of their inherent adhesive nature and brittleness and about satisfactory aesthetics GICs are also widely used to restore loss of tooth structure from the roots of teeth either as consequence of decay or the so-called cervical abrasion cavity. Abrasion cavities were once thought to be the product of over zealous tooth brushing, possibly in association with the use of an abrasive dentifrice. It is now recognized that both dietary factors and functional loading of teeth (causing the teeth to bend) can be co-factors in their aetiology. In addition they’re also used frequently as in non-undercut cavities, with reliance being placed upon their adhesive characteristics to ensure their retention.

As adhesive cavity liners (sandwich technique)

The so-called sandwich technique involves using GIC as dentine replacement and a composite to replace enamel. These purpose designed lining materials set quickly and can be made receptive for the bonding of composite resins simply by washing the material surface if the material is freshly placed (excess water results in some of the GIC matrix being washed out from around the filler particles giving a microscopically rough surface to which the composite wall will attach in an analogous manner to etched enamel). This surface should be coated either with an unfilled resin or a DBA to optimize attachment. It is only necessary to etch a GIC with acid if the restoration has been in place for some time and has fully matured. The sandwich technique has a number of attractions but it should be undertaken as planned procedure rather than as method to improve the appearance of unsatisfactory GIC restoration.

ART (Atraumatic Restorative Treatment)

ART or the Atraumatic Restorative Treatment is a method of caries management developed primarily for use in the Third World countries where skilled dental man power and facilities are limited and the population need is high. It is recognized by the World Health Organization. The technique uses simple hand instruments (such as chisels and excavators) to break through the enamel and remove as much caries as possible. When excavation of caries is complete (or as complete as can be achieved) the residual cavity is restored using a high-viscosity GIC. These GICs give increased strength under functional loads. A recent systematic review concluded that no difference exists in the survival of single- and multiple surface amalgam and ART restorations (using high-viscosity glass-ionomers) in both primary and permanent teeth after up to six years.[13]

As restorations for deciduous teeth

Because of their high fluoride release and minimal cavity preparation requirement, glass ionomer cements are now widely the materisal of choice for the restoration of carious primary teeth. Restoring carious teeth is one of the major treatment needs of young children. A restoration in the primary dentition is different from a restoration in the permanent dentition due to the limited lifespan of the teeth and the lower biting forces of children. As early as 1977, it was suggested that glass ionomer cements could offer particular advantages as restorative materials in the primary dentition because of their ability to release fluoride and to adhere to dental hard tissues. Also, because, they only require a short time to fill the cavity, glass ionomer cements present an additional advantage when treating young children. However, the clinical performance of conventional and metal-reinforced glass ionomer restorations in primary molars is disappointing. Although the handling and physical properties of the resin-modified materials are better than their predecessors, more clinical studies are required to confirm their efficacy in the restoration of primary molars.

See also

Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'Module:Portal/images/d' not found.


  1. ^ a b Frencken, J.E.; Van 't Hof, M.A.; Van Amerongen, W.E.; Holmgren, C.J. (2004). "Effectiveness of Single-surface ART Restorations in the Permanent Dentition: A Meta-analysis". Journal of Dental Research 83 (2): 120–3. PMID 14742648. doi:10.1177/154405910408300207. 
  2. ^ a b Mickenautsch, Steffen; Yengopal, Veerasamy (2012). "Failure rate of atraumatic restorative treatment using high-viscosity glass-ionomer cement compared to that of conventional amalgam restorative treatment in primary and permanent teeth: a systematic review update - III". Journal of Minimum Intervention in Dentistry 5 (6): 273–331. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Mickenautsch, Steffen; Yengopal, Veerasamy; Banerjee, Avijit (2010). "Pulp response to resin-modified glass ionomer and calcium hydroxide cements in deep cavities: A quantitative systematic review". Dental Materials 26 (8): 761–70. PMID 20452013. doi:10.1016/ 
  6. ^ a b Aboush, YE; Torabzadeh, H (1998). "Fluoride release from tooth-colored restorative materials: A 12-month report". Journal of the Canadian Dental Association 64 (8): 561–4, 568. PMID 9785685. 
  7. ^ a b c Benelli, E.M.; Serra, M.C.; Rodrigues, Jr.; Cury, J.A. (1993). "In situ Anticariogenic Potential of Glass lonomer Cement". Caries Research 27 (4): 280–4. PMID 8402802. doi:10.1159/000261551. 
  8. ^ a b Mickenautsch, Steffen; Yengopal, Veerasamy (2011). "Absence of carious lesions at margins of glass-ionomer cement and amalgam restorations: An update of systematic review evidence". BMC Research Notes 4: 58. PMC 3060833. PMID 21396097. doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-58. 
  9. ^ Qvist, Vibeke; Laurberg, Lone; Poulsen, Agneta; Teglers, Poul Thorpen (2004). "Eight‐year study on conventional glass ionomer and amalgam restorations in primary teeth". Acta Odontologica Scandinavica 62 (1): 37–45. PMID 15124781. doi:10.1080/00016350310008689. 
  10. ^ Mickenautsch, Steffen; Yengopal, Veerasamy (2012). "Failure rate of atraumatic restorative treatment using high-viscosity glass-ionomer cement compared to that of conventional amalgam restorative treatment in primary and permanent teeth: a systematic review update". Journal of Minimum Intervention in Dentistry 5 (3): 63–124. 
  11. ^ Mickenautsch, Steffen; Yengopal, Veerasamy; Banerjee, Avijit (2011). "Retention of orthodontic brackets bonded with resin-modified GIC versus composite resin adhesives—a quantitative systematic review of clinical trials". Clinical Oral Investigations 16 (1): 1–14. PMID 22006128. doi:10.1007/s00784-011-0626-8. 
  12. ^ Mickenautsch, Steffen; Yengopal, Veerasamy (2011). "Caries-preventive effect of glass ionomer and resin-based fissure sealants on permanent teeth: An update of systematic review evidence". BMC Research Notes 4: 22. PMC 3041989. PMID 21276215. doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-22. 
  13. ^ Mickenautsch, Steffen; Yengopal, Veerasamy; Banerjee, Avijit (2009). "Atraumatic restorative treatment versus amalgam restoration longevity: A systematic review". Clinical Oral Investigations 14 (3): 233–40. PMID 19688227. doi:10.1007/s00784-009-0335-8. 

Further reading