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Glass Ionomer and Drill-Free Dentistry

At Zak Dental we have a special emphasis on prevention and early detection. Catching decay in the teeth early on gives us an opportunity to treat this infection in a minimally invasive and painless way, often WITHOUT dental drills or shots. In the last several years, more research has come forward to solidify these types of conservative approaches to treating cavities. One modality that we discussed in our prior blogs is Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) which is an absolutely wonderful material that helps stop and reverse the progression of decay. In this blog post, we are going to discuss another miracle material: Glass Ionomer. This material has been proven to be an excellent solution to stopping and controlling decay along with creating numerous DRILL-FREE and INJECTION-FREE SOLUTIONS FOR PATIENTS.


For all your dental needs, call to schedule an appointment 833-925-8326.


What is Glass Ionomer (GI)?

Glass ionomers are adhesive materials used in dental restorations. The basic content of GI is polymeric water-soluble acid, basic (ion leaching) glass, and water. This content makes GI very compatible with tooth anatomy, and allows it to fuse to the tooth and become one with the tooth…so to speak.  Unlike many other dental restorative materials, GI is also hydrophilic (i.e. it has an affinity for wet surfaces), which makes it easier to work with in the mouth, which is generally wet from saliva.  These properties make GI the material of choice for many restorations in dentistry today.


What is the advantage of using Glass Ionomer over other fillings?
  • GI has superior bonding strength to other materials used in dentistry. It binds to the tooth via a chemical bond which is different from other materials (such as composites) which bond to the teeth via mechanical bonds.
  • GI hardens over time and research has shown that after 2 years it becomes the same strength as the enamel portion of our teeth (enamel being the hardest surface in the human body).
  • Because of its ion release capacity, GI absorbs fluoride from the saliva and keeps on releasing it into the tooth that it is fused to. This ultimately creates an anti-cariogenic mechanism of protection for the natural tooth structure below and around the filling.
  • Due to its chemical adhesion (i.e. fusion) to the tooth surface, any sugar content present in saliva will not penetrate past the GI/tooth junction thus causing any remnant bacteria left behind in the tooth underneath the GI Filling to die out without having to be mechanically removed. Remember, acid-producing bacteria that cause cavities NEED sugar to survive. Isolating this bacteria from sugar means the cavity (i.e. infection) will stop progressing and resolve itself!
  • There are NO negative side-effects associated with using glass ionomer for filling and other restorations in the body. In fact, due to its cariogenic prevention capacity, it is the filling of choice for most areas of the mouth because it can actually re-mineralize and strengthen the tooth structure.

This allows us to perform DRILL-FREE/INJECTION-FREE FILLINGS FOR PATIENTS because we don’t need to drill out all the bacteria out of the tooth before placing the filling. If we don’t need to drill as deep, in many cases we don’t need to anesthetize through shots.


Glass Ionomer and Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF)

As we say, this is a marriage made in heaven.  Silver diamine fluoride has several very useful applications in dentistry:

  • Stops and reverses the decay process.
  • Allow working on cavities without drilling into the tooth.
  • Has excellent desensitizing ability.

So in many instances, first applying SDF to a decayed tooth and then covering that area with Glass Ionomer fixes the problem without having to use the drill or needing to numb the patient through shots.  This is an absolutely amazing way to treat the most prevalent problem in the world… TOOTH DECAY.
As I tell my children (they are 11, 8 and 5) : “Finally the cavity monster has met its match.”