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.