When cavities occur, one of the options that your dentist will present to you could be a dental filling. These fillings replace the tooth’s part destroyed by the cavities and work as a protective layer for your tooth once the cavity is removed and the infection cleared. However, dentists working with dental fillings have a multitude of options. With glass ionomer fillings, they offer higher flexibility, protect your teeth from further decay, and even have the special benefit of releasing fluoride overtime to rebuild the dentin and enamel.
What is Glass Ionomer?
Glass ionomer cement is a restorative material made with silicate glass powder. Its purpose is to bond directly to the tooth and create a tight-seal for cavity openings and restorations. The concept was first developed in the 1950s; researchers realized that dentistry’s future relied heavily on developing new forms of adhesive bonding, and thus, created multiple types of cement, such as composite resin and acid-etching enamel cement to restore permanent teeth to health. However, in 1969, chemist Dr. Alan Wilson and Brian Kent develop a silicate glass powder cement that contained polyacrylic acid, claiming it to be a new type of restorative material for bonding with the tooth structure.
How Does Glass Ionomer Work?
When your dentist applies this bonding material to your tooth, the silicate fillers have fluoride-releasing properties, meaning that they’ll actively restore your tooth over time, giving the enamel and dentin the strength it needs to protect itself from harmful bacteria. The polyacrylic acid works as a strong adhesive, making the glass ionomer stick and bond to the tooth’s structure. Once researchers found that glass ionomers worked successfully, this form of dental filler became one of the biggest staples for permanent restorations. Its transparency allowed the cement to match the tooth’s shade, making it highly viable for its cosmetic improvements. Their moisture tolerance also makes it last longer in the mouth, protecting it from saliva, water, and other liquid producing foods and substances that can potentially weaken the filler.
Types of Glass Ionomer Available
Thanks to dentistry’s continuous development, glass ionomers have a complete wide range of uses throughout dentistry and allow dentists to have higher flexibility when treating patients. Among the wide range of fillers, these are the types available today for dental use:
Conventional Glass Ionomer – These ionomers are the base cement most commonly used, and contain the alkaline base with fluoride, which reacts with the polyacrylic acid to create the cement mixture. This form of ionomer is often used within the cavity to protect the tooth from damage.
High-Viscosity Glass Ionomer – Similar to conventional glass ionomers, high-viscosity refers to a higher resistance to deformation when mixed with water. This ionomer is thicker than its conventional type, making it applicable for creating greater bonds with the tooth.
Resin-Modified Glass Ionomer – Some dentists prefer to work with a mixture of composite resin and glass ionomer and layer the two together for a highly resistant surface. This cement helps maintain structural integrity and provide longer-lasting effects. The resin-modified glass ionomer works to remove dentists’ extra steps to apply it, creating a moisture-controlled environment that produces better aesthetic results.
To take a deeper look into the variety of dental fillers out there, and what filler will work best for your teeth, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Jonathan McCartney at McCartney Dental, located in North Port, FL, for more information.