A Comparative Analysis: Resin-Modified Glass Ionomer Cement and Traditional Glass Ionomer Cement

The dental care landscape has long appreciated glass ionomer cements for their versatility and clinical utility. These dental materials have found applications in a wide range of procedures, from restorations and luting to preventive dentistry, thanks to their unique properties. Two prominent categories of GIC have emerged: resin modified glass ionomer cement (RMGIC) and glass ionomer cement (GIC).

This article aims to provide a detailed comparison of these materials. Read on for insights into their composition, setting mechanisms, physical properties, and more.

Composition and Chemistry

RMGIC and GIC share a common foundation in their chemical composition, known for their water-based, acid-base reactions. Both are primarily composed of three key components:

Glass Filler Particles: These particles, typically fluoro-alumino-silicate or fluoro-alumino-borosilicate, form the bulk of the material. They contribute to the strength, aesthetics, and fluoride-releasing properties of the cement.

Polyacids: Both RMGIC and GIC contain polyacids, such as polyacrylic acid. These polyacids are essential for the acid-base reaction that initiates the setting of the cement.

Water: Water is an integral part of the setting reaction, where it helps dissolve the polyacids and initiates the ionic exchange between the polyacids and the glass particles.

RMGIC, however, differs from GIC in one crucial aspect: the addition of resin. RMGIC includes resin monomers, which serve to enhance the physical properties of the cement. This modification allows RMGIC to have superior strength, reduced water sensitivity, and improved esthetics compared to GIC.

Setting Mechanisms

The setting mechanisms of resin modified glass ionomer cement and glass ionomer cement share some common elements. Both involve an acid-base reaction between the polyacids and the glass filler particles. During this reaction, the polyacids react with the surface of the glass particles, forming a matrix that hardens over time.

In RMGIC, the added resin component contributes to the setting mechanism by forming a resin matrix within the cement. This resin matrix increases the strength of the material and reduces its susceptibility to moisture, making RMGIC a more versatile option.

The setting time for RMGIC and GIC is influenced by factors such as temperature, humidity, and the specific formulation of the cement. Generally, RMGIC tends to set more quickly than traditional GIC, offering an advantage in clinical applications.

Physical Properties

The physical properties of RMGIC and GIC are a key point of comparison. These properties include compressive strength, flexural strength, and hardness. In these aspects, RMGIC tends to outperform traditional GIC due to the added resin component.

Compressive Strength: RMGIC typically exhibits higher compressive strength compared to GIC. This makes it more suitable for restorative applications, particularly in load-bearing areas of the mouth.

Flexural Strength: RMGIC’s enhanced flexural strength makes it a preferred choice for restorations in regions where the material is subjected to bending forces, such as in Class II restorations.

Hardness: RMGIC is known for its increased hardness, offering better resistance to wear and abrasion. This makes it a suitable option for restorations that require longevity and durability.

It’s pertinent to note that traditional glass ionomer cement, while exhibiting lower physical properties, is still valued in various clinical scenarios, particularly in preventive dentistry.

Adhesion and Bonding

One of the critical advantages of both RMGIC and GIC is their adhesive properties. They can chemically bond to dental tissues, including enamel and dentin, thanks to their capacity for ionic exchange with tooth structure.

RMGIC, with its resin modification, typically offers better adhesion compared to traditional GIC. The resin component enhances the material’s ability to bond to tooth surfaces, offering a secure attachment that minimizes microleakage and the risk of secondary caries.

Clinical applications, therefore, often determine the choice between RMGIC and GIC. For restorative dentistry, RMGIC is ideal for its superior adhesion in load-bearing areas and esthetic restorations.
Traditional GIC, on the other hand, remains a reliable choice for various preventive applications, such as pit and fissure glass ionomer sealant solutions.

Clinical Applications

RMGIC and GIC find applications in a variety of dental procedures:

RMGIC: This material is well-suited for restorative dentistry, particularly in Class II and esthetic restorations, where its improved strength and esthetics are advantageous. RMGIC is also used as a luting agent for indirect restorations.

GIC: Traditional GIC excels in preventive dentistry. It is widely used for pit and fissure glass ionomer sealant solutions, as well as in cases where long-term fluoride release is desirable. Additionally, GIC is employed in non-load-bearing restorations and as a liner or base beneath other restorative materials.

Biocompatibility and Bioactivity

Biocompatibility is a critical aspect of dental materials, and both RMGIC and GIC are generally well-tolerated by the oral tissues. They release fluoride ions, contributing to the remineralization of enamel and the prevention of secondary caries.

However, it is important to note that individual patient considerations and allergies should always be taken into account.

Water Uptake and Degradation

Both RMGIC and GIC are affected by water, with the setting reactions being highly dependent on water availability. While the presence of water is necessary to initiate the setting reaction, it can also lead to water uptake and potential degradation over time.

Traditional GIC is more susceptible to moisture and can exhibit higher water sorption rates than resin modified glass ionomer cement. RMGIC’s resin component helps reduce its water sensitivity and enhances its overall stability.

Innovations and Future Developments

Ongoing research and development in the field of glass ionomer cements promise exciting innovations and expanded applications. Researchers continue to explore ways to improve the physical properties, adhesion, and esthetics of these materials.

Furthermore, the development of bioactive glass and nanoparticles holds promise for enhancing the remineralization and bioactivity of these cements, making them even more valuable in preventing and treating dental caries.


RMGIC and GIC are essential materials in modern dentistry, each with unique advantages. Resin modified glass ionomer cement excels in physical properties, adhesion, and esthetics, thanks to its resin content. Traditional glass ionomer cement remains reliable in preventive dentistry and other clinical scenarios. Dental professionals should assess case-specific requirements to choose the right material.

Ongoing research promises innovations in glass ionomer cements. Innovative dental solution providers like GC America offer advanced RMGIC and GIC options. Learn more here.

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