4 Different Bur Types and When Dentists Use Them

Dentists use many different tools over a full workday. They might use tools for cleaning and polishing teeth, or they may leave that up to their assistants. Some dentists only engage in more complex dental procedures, like extractions, filling cavities, implant surgeries, and so forth.

Today we’ll be talking about dental burs, one of the instruments that dentists and dental assistants use. There are several different varieties, and certain situations make each one ideal.

Steel Burs

Before a dentist gets ready to use dental burs, they will require a bur block. The bur block is a tool holder that can fit several different instruments. The dentist can set one up near a patient so that they can reach for the appropriate tool at a delicate procedure’s exact moment.

You sometimes see plexiglass, anodized aluminum, or stainless-steel bur blocks. They come in different colors.

The steel bur is one of the more common ones you might see in a dental office. A dentist or hygienist might use it for either cavity preparation or removing dentin.

Steel burs are flexible, and they are a low-maintenance tool. They have excellent edge retention when you combine one with wear-resistant carbides. They are abrasion-resistant, particularly the high-speed varieties.

As far as negatives, they often dull or chip more often than some of the other dental burs. That’s why they have a shorter usable life than some others on this list.

Ceramic Burs

The most common time you’ll see a ceramic bur is if a dentist or assistant is going to adjust an acrylic piece. The reason a dentist might use this bur is that it does not conduct heat as readily as some other types.

The dentist can maintain its integrity as they are adjusting any acrylic piece. They can also adjust thermoplastics with it.

When changing burs, it provides cooler cutting. That means burns are less likely, which is something the patient and dentist both want to hear.

Carbide Burs

A dentist may use a carbide bur to remove old fillings that are coming loose or have become painful. They might use it to shape bone or prepare a cavity for filling.

The main reason dental professionals use carbide burs is that they leave a smoother surface than the diamond bur. They also do not vibrate as much. They don’t make the same chattering noise that some dental patients detest so much.

Diamond Burs

Lots of dentists like diamond burs and use them for more than just about anything else. This bur has some significant advantages.

A dental professional can use one to polish and cut through porcelain. They can cut both faster and smoother with them. When a dentist needs to make a precision cut, they will more than likely reach for this tool.

A diamond bur that has a finer grit can easily create a high polish in the right hands. Whenever precise work needs to happen, a diamond bur will likely be part of the required kit. If a dentist plans to remove large material pieces, they will opt for something else.

One interesting fact about the diamond bur is that if a dentist buys one, one with natural diamonds will last longer than one with human-made counterparts.

What About the Different Bur Shapes?

It’s also true that there are some different bur shapes, and each one comes in handy for something different. A dentist might use the pear-shaped bur to prepare cavities or create access points. They may use it for evenly splitting smaller tooth roots if the job requires that.

Then, there is the round bur. A dental professional will use it to create access points and prepare cavities, but, unlike the pear-shaped bur, they can also create blade channels and undercuts with it. That’s why a dentist performing an extraction will have one on hand.

There’s also the cross-cut, tapered fissure bur. A dentist might use one if they want less debris since they cut with great efficiency. They can section multiple-root teeth and reduce crown height.

A dentist might try different burs in various situations until they master the craft. You can see each one of these offers advantages, while each also has some drawbacks.

This is not unlike any craftsperson’s tools. You always want the right one for the job, and you want a variety on hand. The dentist must use the right bur for the proper situation, or they could end up with a real mess on their hands.