Glass Ionomer Luting Cements – Are There Reasons to Leave Your Standby?

With the market flooded with attractive ads for “new and improved” cements, the practitioner may wonder if, and when, they are worth the extra money. Since our trust in the quality and sealing ability of composite resins has grown, that has tended to flow over to other uses of resins as well, and we’ve wondered if it’s time to move on to the newer product.

You might have the impression based on bonded restorations that resin cements “bond” better and are therefore more likely to retain your crown. It’s absolutely valid that in any application involving true bonding, such as veneers, resin cements would be the only viable option. But for crowns made with non-bondable materials such as all-metal, PFM, zirconia or lithium disilicate, there is no point to using an expensive resin cement when a glass ionomer will serve just as well for a fraction of the cost. The reality is that if your crowns have 3-4 mm of wall length and approximately 10-12° of taper, the cement you choose is largely a matter of choice.

So what else might influence your decision? Glass ionomers had a reputation for post-operative sensitivity some years ago when clinicians treated the dentin surface as they would a restorative surface and removed the smear layer. This opened all the dentinal tubules, leaving the tooth vulnerable to the acidic pH forced down into the dentinal tubules via hydraulic pressure of crown seating. When the smear layer is left in place, this is not usually a problem.

But what about the seal? Glass ionomers form an ionic bond to the calcium ions in dentin that forms a strong seal, and the low shrinkage of glass ionomer makes it quite stable, and the resin-modified versions are even more stable and less soluble. Self-etching cements, on the other hand, have such a low acid content that there is very little etching or bonding ability to dentin. In fact, most experts recommend a separate etching step on enamel.

All in all, glass ionomer has proven itself to be the luting cement of choice for all non-bondable materials.

2 thoughts on “Glass Ionomer Luting Cements – Are There Reasons to Leave Your Standby?

  1. Hi,

    Good article. I love using GIC. I have read about this bioactive Ceramir cement from Swedish Doxa.

    Is that a good choice?


  2. This is an interesting question. So many new cements hit the market every year, making claims… which is partly why I wrote this piece! I am not personally familiar with this product, nor is anyone on the faculty here at Georgia that I have asked.
    I did some research and found that there are some articles with 2 year data showing fairly good performance. That’s quite respectable. Again, probably not a reason to change your current cement if you are happy with it.
    As for the “bioactive” claim, it has no definition in the dental materials world. Dentin is best bonded with either a dentin bonding agent or a glass ionomer, which can claim true chemical bonding to the calcium ions. Not sure what they are basing that one on. Sounds cool though.
    Hope this helps.

Comments are closed.