Types of Dental Burs and When to Use Them

August 11, 2021, Crawford and O brein

Types of Dental Burs and When to Use Them
Types of Dental Burs and When to Use Them
What are dental burs? Dental burs are rotatory instruments, considered essential for general dentistry procedures. Dental burns are designed for cutting through the hard tissues in your mouth, such as the bone or the tooth enamel. Due to the extensive application of dental burs, they come in different grits, shapes, and sizes.


Historically, dentists have been using carbide burs for tooth restoration as sharp cutting devices. However, the development of technology in the dental field has taken the ubiquitous carbine burs to a new height.

Components of carbide dental burs

Each dental bur has three essential components:
• The shank, which is the longest component and varies in shape to be attached to different types of handpieces
• The heat containing a sharp blade to rotate and cut the hard tissue
• The neck contains the cutting blade and is attached seamlessly to the head

Types of dental burs

The position and the angle of the head’s shape and blades determine the use of carbide burs. Here are common types of dental burs, to begin with:

Diamond dental burs

Diamond burns, in combination with high-speed handpieces, are used widely in the industry by dentists. Diamond burs leave a rough and pointy surface after cutting through hard tissues, such as the bone or enamel.

Diamond burs come with a friction grip shank and the blade is formed by bonding small elements of diamonds onto a substance.

They are used in veneer-related and crown procedures because they are designed to reduce the tooth structure.

However, the lack of sterilization and short lifespan reduce the efficiency of diamond burs. Thus, the dentists only use them for smooth and fast cuts.

A fun fact about this type of bur is that only natural diamonds are used to increase durability, high performance, lifespan, and cutting efficiency.

Tungsten Carbide burs

Tungsten carbide burs are three times strong than steel or any other alloy and are known in the industry for their spot-on precision.  They give an incredible finish and help the dentists to smooth down the rough teeth structures.

Tungsten carbide burs are incredibly useful for trimming composite restorations and come with RA and friction grip shanks to improve efficacy.

While other burs make a loud chattering noise, tungsten carbide burs are popular for low chatter and minimal vibrations.

Brittle material and consistent buildup of debris are some of the disadvantages of tungsten carbide burs.

Steel burs

Steel burs are popular for their edge retention and flexibility. They are used widely by dentists for removing cavity debris and dentin. One of the common types of steel burs contains a latch-enclosed RA shank, which is great for breaking and chipping away.
They possess high resistance shanks but they tend to corrode and blunt faster than tungsten carbide burs.


Each type of bur comes in a variety of shapes (pear, round, and tapered cross-cut burs) and is used for a specific purpose in the dental industry. Even if you get the highest quality of bur, it will be ineffective unless you use the appropriate shape for the said procedure. 


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