Glass Ionomer Filling: A Useful White Material

Glass ionomer filling, like composite filling is another filling material that is tooth-colored.  Although not as strong as composite as a white filling,  glass ionomer filling does have some uses:

  • For filling decay, dental erosion or other  tooth-wear cavities around the gum area.
  • As a strong temporary filling.  Glass ionomer can be placed on a cavity as a temporary filling before a permanent filling is placed.  It is often used in emergency situations and as a temporary filling in between root canal appointments.
  • As a filling in areas that aren’t exposed to chewing forces.  It is strong enough to last where you will not be biting down on it.
  • In patients with a lot of decay (as  the material releases fluoride).
  • For filling baby teeth, glass ionomer is an excellent choice.


Glass Ionomer Filling: Advantages

  • Glass ionomer is tooth colored, so it is relatively discrete.  However it generally is not as good a choice aesthetically as composite filling is.
  • Glass ionomer fillings slowly release fluoride into the tooth.  This can strengthen the tooth against further tooth decay, and is very useful where decay is a problem.
  • Like composite materials, they chemically adhere (stick) to teeth.
  • The material is relatively easy and quicker to place compared to composite.  It is therefore ideal as a temporary and emergency filling material.
  • Newer materials than are stronger and generally improved are being constantly developed.



  • Glass ionomer is not as strong and durable as composite filling material is.  It is therefore not as long-lasting in most situations.  It is not suitable as a long-term filling material on the biting surfaces of teeth.
  • As mentioned above, it generally does not give as good a result cosmetically as composite.
  • It has to be carefully placed to make sure no moisture (saliva) gets into the filling before it sets.
  • Older types of glass ionomer can take some time to fully set.



Glass ionomer filling is a useful choice of material in a variety of circumstances.  It is not as strong as composite filling or amalgam filling, so these materials are more commonly used.

One comment

  1. Hi Barry, I may have written you before regarding glass ionomer but this is my experience. I have used it for 25 years with great success. It can be placed in a moist environment and it can hold up very (Class 1 no problem). It is not as strong as composite but the other advantages easily compinsate. Try bonding to it, it works great.

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