Direct Restorative Materials
Glass Ionomers CATEGORY DESCRIPTION
Named for the reaction of silicate glass powder and polyalkenoic acid (an ionmer), the glass ionomer is a tooth-colored, fluoride-releasing material that bonds chemically to dental hard tissues and sets via the acid-base reaction.
The glass ionomer is typically classified as conventional, metal-reinforced and resin-modified. Conventional glass ionomers are derived from aqueous polyalkenoic acid and a glass component. Metal-reinforced glass ionomers were first formulated with silver-amalgam alloy powder for increased physical strength and radiopacity, and later with silver particles for enhanced mechanical properties. Introduced to further improve mechanical properties, the resin-modified glass ionomer contains hydrophilic monomers and polymers, and appears to have higher flexural strengths than the conventional glass ionomer.
Glass ionomers are considered “smart” dental materials with regard to their thermal behavior, making surface moisture conditions less critical with their use. Among their other reported advantages is their relative biocompatibility, their ability to be placed in cavities without the need for bonding agents, reduced polymerization shrinkage, and reduced postoperative sensitivity.
These properties make glass ionomers especially used in the restoration of carious lesions in low stress areas, and in long-term provisional restorations, deep posterior Class II restorations, crown build-ups, and cervical decay patients. Chemical modifications have resulted in the introduction of light-cured glass ionomers, and in faster setting, high-viscosity glass ionomers, which—along with filled resin surface sealant—can be used for Class I, II, and V restorations.
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