This article is an updated review of the published literature on glass-ionomer cements and covers their structure, properties and clinical uses within dentistry, with an emphasis on findings from the last five years or so. Glass-ionomers are shown to set by an acid-base reaction within 2–3 min and to form hard, reasonably strong materials with acceptable appearance. They release fluoride and are bioactive, so that they gradually develop a strong, durable interfacial ion-exchange layer at the interface with the tooth, which is responsible for their adhesion. Modified forms of glass-ionomers, namely resin-modified glass-ionomers and glass carbomer, are also described and their properties and applications covered. Physical properties of the resin-modified glass-ionomers are shown to be good, and comparable with those of conventional glass-ionomers, but biocompatibility is somewhat compromised by the presence of the resin component, 2 hydroxyethyl methacrylate. Properties of glass carbomer appear to be slightly inferior to those of the best modern conventional glass-ionomers, and there is not yet sufficient information to determine how their bioactivity compares, although they have been formulated to enhance this particular feature.
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