What are Glass Ionomer Cements?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2019
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Glass ionomer cements, or GIC, are a classification of bonding and filling materials that are often employed in the field of dentistry. Sometimes referred to as dental cements, they can be utilized as a binding agent to help in the luting process between teeth or as one of the fillers used in tooth repair and restoration. When set in place, these cements have an appearance and color that approximates the look and hue of a tooth, making the material both practical and visually appealing.

The first of the glass ionomer cements was released in 1972. While some enhancements have been made over the years, the essential components of the glass ionomer compound have remained the same. Making good use of the natural reaction between silicate glass powder and polyakleonic acid, the ionomer material can be used as dental fillings in cavities. This one application has made it possible to save teeth that would have been extracted in the years prior to the development and release of this material.

In general, glass ionomer cements require only a short period of time to set. Six to eight minutes from the time of mixing and application is normally sufficient. However, it is possible to slow the setting somewhat by mixing the cement on a cold surface if more time is required before the mixture is applied to the patient.


Over the years, a number of applications have been discovered for the use of glass ionomer cements. Normally referred to as types, these applications involve several common dental procedures. They may be used as luting cements (Type I), liners and bases as well as core buildup in cavities (Types III and VI) and as a fissure sealant (Type IV). Altogether, there are currently six distinct types of applications.

While some of the applications of glass ionomer cements are meant to be permanent, the cement can also be used for temporary applications, such as an intermediate restoration. A trained dental professional can determine when and if the use of this cement is in the best interests of the patient.


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Post 5

@Farah1 - I think you bring up an excellent point. Thank you for posting. Glass ionomer cements are much better than metal cements. Using them instead of metal cements makes the thought of filling in a cavity much less scary.

I have a seven year old son. While I try to make him understand the importance of good dental hygiene, it is still a struggle getting him to brush his teeth regularly. Sure enough, when he last visited the dentist for his six month check up and cleaning, the dentist found a few cavities.

I was devastated. When I was his age, I too had cavities that needed to be filled. My childhood dentist only used metal fillings. So

when I returned to school the next day after getting my cavities filled, my classmates poked fun at me. I did not want my son growing up insecure about his smile like I did.

Thankfully, his dentist assured me that he would be using a glass ionomer cement that would closely match the color of his natural teeth. This was quite a relief to me. I am glad dental care has advanced since the time I was a child.

Post 4

I have been a dental assistant for about a year. The dentists that I work for definitely prefer glass ionomer cements over other dental restoration materials.

Like the article says, glass ionomer cement is designed to be a permanent dental solution. It can withstand all forms of chewing as good as natural teeth. This fact is especially important to patients who like to know that they can continue enjoying the foods that they love without having to worry about their filling popping out.

I think the best aspect of glass ionomer cement is that its color closely resembles that of natural teeth. Using it provides a more aesthetically pleasing dental solution than metal fillings.

Post 2

Airstar21: GIC has been proven to have no side effect or cytotoxicity effect making it the safest filling material

Question: Can GIC withstand mastication forces? and how biobivility is it? thank you

Post 1

I'd like to ask whether the glass ionomer cement having any side effects, especially if got in contact with the gingival tissues..thank you very much.

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