Glass ionomer cement

A glass ionomer cement is a dental restorative material used in dentistry for dental fillings and luting cements. It is also now commonly used as an orthodontic bracket adhesive, either as a glass ionomer, or a glass ionomer-based cement.[1] Glass-ionomer based cements are essentially hybrids of glass ionomers and another dental material, for example Resin-Modified Glass Ionomer Cements (RMGICs) and compomers (or modified composites).[2] These materials are based on the reaction of silicate glasspowder (calciumaluminofluorosilicate glass[3])and polyalkenoic acid, an ionomer. Occasionally water is used instead of an acid,[1] altering the properties of the material and its uses.[4] This reaction produces a powdered cement of glass particles surrounded by matrix of fluoride elements and is known chemically as Glass Polyalkenoate.[2] There are other forms of similar reactions which can take place, for example, when using an aqueous solution of acrylic/itaconic copolymer with Tartaric acid, this results in a glass-ionomer in liquid form. An aqueous solution of Maleic acid polymer or maleic/acrylic copolymer with Tartaric acid can also be used to form a glass-ionomer in liquid form. Tartaric acid plays a significant part in controlling the setting characteristics of the material.[2]


Glass ionomer cement is primarily used in the prevention of dental caries. This dental material has good adhesive bond properties to tooth structure,[5] allowing it to form a tight seal between the internal structures of the tooth and the surrounding environment. Dental caries is caused by bacterial production of acid during their metabolic actions. The acid produced from this metabolism results in the breakdown of tooth enamel and subsequent inner structures of the tooth, if the disease is not intervened by a dental professional, or if the carious lesion does not arrest and/or the enamel re-mineralises by itself. Glass ionomer cements act as sealants when pits and fissures in the tooth occur and release fluoride to prevent further enamel demineralisation and promote remineralisation. Fluoride can also hinder bacterial growth, by inhibiting their metabolism of ingested sugars in the diet. It does this by inhibiting various metabolic enzymes within the bacteria. This leads to a reduction in the acid produced during the bacteria’s digestion of food, preventing a further drop in pH and therefore preventing carious.

The application of glass ionomer sealants to occlusal surfaces of the posterior teeth, reduce dental caries in comparison to not using sealants at all.[6] There is evidence that when using sealants, only 6% of people develop tooth decay over a 2-year period, in comparison to 40% of people when not using a sealant.[6] However, it is recommended that the use of fluoride varnish alongside glass ionomer sealants should be applied in practice to further reduce the risk of secondary dental caries.[7]

However, the addition of resin to glass ionomers, improves properties significantly, allowing it to be more easily mixed and placed.[3] Resin-modified glass ionomers allow equal or higher fluoride release and there is evidence of higher retention, higher strength and lower solubility.[3] Resin-based glass ionomers have two setting reactions: an acid-base setting and a free-radical polymerisation. The free-radical polymerisation is the predominant mode of setting, as it occurs more rapidly than the acid-base setting, which is comparatively slower. Only the material properly activated by light will be optimally cured. The presence of resin protects the cement from water contamination. Due to the shortened working time, it is recommended that placement and shaping of the material occurs as soon as possible after mixing.[2]


Dental sealants were first introduced as part of the preventative programme, in the late 1960s, in response to increasing cases of pits and fissures on occlusal surfaces due to caries.[6] This led to glass ionomer cements to be introduced in 1972 by wilson and kent as derivative of the silicate cements and the polycarboxylate cements.[2] The glass ionomer cements incorporated the fluoride releasing properties of the silicate cements with the adhesive qualities of polycarboxylate cements.[4] This incorporation allowed the material to be stronger, less soluble and more translucent (and therefore more aesthetic) than its predecessors.[2]

Glass ionomer cements were initially intended to be used for the aesthetic restoration of anterior teeth and were recommended for restoring Class III and Class V cavity preparations.[5] There have now been further developments in the material’s composition to improve properties. For example, the addition of metal or resin particles into the sealant is favoured due to the longer working time and the material being less sensitive to moisture during setting.[5]

When glass ionomer cements were first used, they were mainly used for the restoration of abrasion/erosion lesions and as a luting agent for crown and bridge reconstructions. However, this has now been extended to occlusal restorations in deciduous dentition, restoration of proximal lesions and cavity bases and liners.[4] This is made possible by the ever-increasing new formulations of glass ionomer cements.

Glass ionomer versus Resin-based sealants

When the two dental sealants are compared, there has always been a contradiction as to which materials is more effective in caries reduction. Therefore, there are claims against replacing resin-based sealants, the current Gold Standard, with glass ionomer.[8][9][10]


Glass ionomer sealants are thought to prevent caries through a steady fluoride release over a prolonged period and the fissures are more resistant to demineralization, even after the visible loss of sealant material.[6]

These sealants have hydrophilic properties, allowing them to be an alternative of the hydrophobic resin in the generally wet oral cavity. Resin-based sealants are easily destroyed by saliva contamination.

Chemically curable glass ionomer cements are considered safe from allergic reactions but a few have been reported with resin-based materials. Nevertheless, allergic reactions are very rarely associated with both sealants.[6]


The main disadvantage of glass ionomer sealants has been inadequate retention. Due to its poor retention rate, periodic recalls are necessary, even after 6 months, to eventually replace the lost sealant.[6][11]

Clinical Applications

Glass ionomers are used frequently due to the versatile properties they contain and the relative ease with which they can be used. Prior to procedures, starter materials for glass ionomers are supplied either as a powder and liquid or as a powder mixed with water. A mixed form of these materials can be provided in an encapsulated form.[12]

Preparation of the material should involve following manufacture instructions. A paper pad or cool dry glass slab may be used for mixing the raw materials though it is important to note that the use of the glass slab will retard the reaction and hence increase the working time.[13] The raw materials in liquid and powder form should not be dispensed onto the chosen surface until the mixture is required in the clinical procedure the glass ionomer is being used for, as a prolonged exposure to the atmosphere could interfere with the ratio of chemicals in the liquid. At the stage of mixing, a spatula should be used to rapidly incorporate the powder into the liquid for a duration of 45–60 seconds depending on manufacture instructions and the individual products.[14]

Once mixed together to form a paste, an acid-base reaction occurs which allows the glass ionomer complex to set over a certain period of time and this reaction involves three overlapping stages:

It is important to note that Glass ionomers have a long setting time and need protection from the oral environment in order to minimize interference with dissolution and prevent contamination.[15]

The type of application for glass ionomers depends on the cement consistency as varying levels of viscosity from very high viscosity to low viscosity, can determine whether the cement is used as luting agents, orthodontic bracket adhesives, pit and fissure sealants, liners and bases, core build-ups, or intermediate restorations.[13]

Clinical Uses

The different Clinical uses of Glass Ionomer compounds as restorative materials include;

Chemistry and Setting reaction

All GICs contain a basic glass and an acidic polymer liquid, which set by an acid-base reaction. The polymer is an ionomer, containing a small proportion - some 5 to 10% - of substituted ionic groups. These allow it to be acid decomposable and clinically set readily.

The glass filler is generally a calcium alumino fluorosilicate powder, which upon reaction with a polyalkenoic acid gives a glass polyalkenoate-glass residue set in an ionised, polycarboxylate matrix.

The acid base setting reaction begins with the mixing of the components. The first phase of the reaction involves dissolution. The acid begins to attach the surface of the glass particles, as well as the adjacent tooth substrate, thus precipitating their outer layers but also neutralising itself. As the pH of the aqueous solution rises, the polyacrylic acid begins to ionise, and becoming negatively charged it sets up a diffusion gradient and helps draw cations out of the glass and dentine. The alkalinity also induces the polymers to dissociate, increasing the viscosity of the aqueous solution.

The second phase is gelation, where as the pH continues to rise and the concentration of the ions in solution to increase, a critical point is reached and insoluble polyacrylates begin to precipitate. These polyanions have carboxylate groups whereby cations bind them, especially Ca2+ in this early phase, as it is the most readily available ion, crosslinking into calcium polyacrylate chains that begin to form a gel matrix, resulting in the initial hard set, within five minutes. Crosslinking, H bonds and physical entanglement of the chains are responsible for gelation. During this phase, the GIC is still vulnerable and must be protected from moisture. If contamination occurs, the chains will degrade and the GIC lose its strength and optical properties. Conversely, dehydration early on will crack the cement and make the surface porous.

Over the next four and twenty hours maturation occurs. The less stable calcium polyacrylate chains are progressively replaced by aluminum polyacrylate, allowing the calcium to join the fluoride and phosphate and diffuse into the tooth substrate, forming polysalts, which progressively hydrate to yield a physically stronger matrix.[20]

The incorporation of fluoride delays the reaction, increasing the working time. Other factors are the temperature of the cement, and the powder to liquid ration - more powder or heat speeding up the reaction.

GICs have good adhesive relations with tooth substrates, uniquely chemically bonding to dentine and, to a lesser extend, to enamel. During initial dissolution, both the glass particles and the hydroxyapatite structure are affected, and thus as the acid is buffered the matrix reforms, chemically welded together at the interface into a calcium phosphate polyalkenoate bond. In addition, the polymer chains are incorporated into both, weaving cross links, and in dentine the collagen fibres also contribute, both linking physically and H-bonding to the GIC salt precipitates. There is also microretention from porosities occurring in the hydroxyapatite.[21]


  1. 1 2 "Adhesives for fixed orthodontic bands - Millett - 2007 - The Cochrane Library - Wiley Online Library". doi:10.1002/14651858.cd004485.pub3.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 McCabe, John F.; Walls, Angus W.G. (2008). Applied Dental Materials (9 ed.). Oxford, United Kingdom: Wiley-Blackwell (an imprint of John Wiley & Sons Ltd). pp. 284–287.
  3. 1 2 3 Sonis, Stephen T. (2003). Dental Secrets (3 ed.). Philadelphia: Hanley & Belfus. p. 158.
  4. 1 2 3 Van Noort, Richard; Barbour, Michele (2013). Introduction to Dental Materials (4 ed.). Edinburgh: Elsevier Health Sciences. pp. 95–106.
  5. 1 2 3 Anusavice, Kenneth J. (2003). Phillips’ Science of Dental Materials (11 ed.). United Kingdom: Elsevier Health Sciences. pp. 471–472.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Ahovuo-Saloranta, Anneli; Forss, Helena; Walsh, Tanya; Hiiri, Anne; Nordblad, Anne; Mäkelä, Marjukka; Worthington, Helen V (2013-03-28). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. doi:10.1002/14651858.cd001830.pub4.
  7. Ahovuo-Saloranta, Anneli; Forss, Helena; Hiiri, Anne; Nordblad, Anne; Mäkelä, Marjukka (2016-01-18). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. doi:10.1002/14651858.cd003067.pub4.
  8. Niederman, Richard (2010-03-01). "Glass ionomer and resin-based fissure sealants – equally effective?". Evidence-Based Dentistry. 11 (1): 10–10. doi:10.1038/sj.ebd.6400700. ISSN 1462-0049.
  9. Mickenautsch, Steffen; Yengopal, Veerasamy (2011-01-28). "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. doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-22. ISSN 1756-0500. PMC 3041989Freely accessible. PMID 21276215.
  10. Mickenautsch, Steffen; Yengopal, Veerasamy (2016-01-01). "Caries-Preventive Effect of High-Viscosity Glass Ionomer and Resin-Based Fissure Sealants on Permanent Teeth: A Systematic Review of Clinical Trials". PloS One. 11 (1): e0146512. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0146512. ISSN 1932-6203. PMC 4723148Freely accessible. PMID 26799812.
  11. Baseggio, Wagner; Naufel, Fabiana Scarparo; Davidoff, Denise César de Oliveira; Nahsan, Flávia Pardo Salata; Flury, Simon; Rodrigues, Jonas Almeida (2010-01-01). "Caries-preventive efficacy and retention of a resin-modified glass ionomer cement and a resin-based fissure sealant: a 3-year split-mouth randomised clinical trial". Oral Health & Preventive Dentistry. 8 (3): 261–268. ISSN 1602-1622. PMID 20848004.
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 McCabe, J. F (2008). Applied dental materials. p. 254.
  13. 1 2 Anusavice, Kenneth J. Phillips’ Science of Dental Materials, Eleventh edition. p. 477. ISBN 978-0-7216-9387-3.
  14. 1 2 Ferracane, Jack L. Materials in Dentistry, Principles and Applications. p. 74.
  15. Noort, Barbour,, Richard van, Michele. Introduction to Dental Materials. pp. 95–98.
  16. 1 2 Smith, Wright, Brown, ., Bernard G. N, Paul S., David. The Clinical Handling of Dental Materials, second edition. p. 226.
  17. "sealants for preventing dental decay in the permanent teeth". External link in |website= (help)
  18. Levy, Steven M. (2012-06-01). "Pit-and-fissure sealants are more effective than fluoride varnish in caries prevention on occlusal surfaces". The Journal of Evidence-Based Dental Practice. 12 (2): 74–76. doi:10.1016/j.jebdp.2012.03.007. ISSN 1532-3390. PMID 22726782.
  19. Ahovuo-Saloranta, Anneli; Forss, Helena; Hiiri, Anne; Nordblad, Anne; Mäkelä, Marjukka (2016-01-18). "Pit and fissure sealants versus fluoride varnishes for preventing dental decay in the permanent teeth of children and adolescents". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (1): CD003067. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003067.pub4. ISSN 1469-493X. PMID 26780162.
  20. Gao W.; Smales R.J.; Yip H;K. 2000. Demineralization and remineralization of dentine caries, and the role of glass-ionomer cements. Int Dent J. Feb;50(1):51-6.
  21. Yilmaz, Y. et al. 2005. The influence of various conditioning agents on the interdiffusion zone and microleakage of a glass ionomer cement with a high viscosity in primary teeth. Journal of Operative Dentistry, 30:1 105-113.

Further reading

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/24/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.