Types of Burs in dentistry

There are many different types of burs available on the market, each of which has its own set of advantages. However, today, we will be focusing on dental burs.

Some are more effective in specific capacities than others, but making the right decisions is critical to the long-term financial success of your firm.

What are Burs?

Burs are a rotating counterpart of files, which cut linearly (hence their alternate name, rotary files). The burrs are also very similar to endmills and router bits in many aspects; the main difference is that endmills and router bits are typically controlled by the machine, whereas burrs are frequently handled freehand.

However, there is a significant amount of overlap in the application and toolpath control of these distinct classes of cutters, as well as in the results achieved by using them.

Endmills, for example, can be used in routers, and burrs, which are similar to endmills, can be used in milling by CNC or manual machine tools.

Burrs (the tools) are frequently employed in CNC machining centres for the removal of burrs (the small flakes of metal) that remain after the machining process is completed.

To ensure that the correct surface speed and cutting conditions are maintained, burrs are spun at a rapid rate (thousands or tens of thousands of RPM; often the top speed available on a given spindle). Unlike similar high-speed steel (HSS) cutters, the tungsten carbide cutters depicted in the image can operate at higher speeds while retaining their cutting edges.

Because the cutting edges of burrs are so thin, they can often be touched with a finger while spinning without cutting the skin, which flexes out of the way.

However, pinching or gripping them from two sides would not be recommended due to the risk of cutting the skin. Because hard metal or ceramic workpieces are unable to flex past the cutting edges, the tools must remove material from the workpieces.

It is because of this property that burrs are appropriate for use in dentistry, as the tool will crush the hard enamel of teeth while leaving soft oral tissues uninjured if the instrument should accidentally come into contact with them.

Dental Burs

Dental burs are tools that are used to cut hard tissues such as teeth or bones. Steel, stainless steel, tungsten carbide, and diamond grit are used in the construction of these tools.

In any dentistry catalogue, there can be a bewildering array of dental burs to choose from, but for basic veterinary use, only a few burs are required. Burs have two parts: a shank and an ahead.

They are small attachments that are used in conjunction with a dental handpiece to perform dental procedures.

There is a lot of value in them when it comes to preparing strategies for various dental treatments. There are several distinct types of dental burs that can be utilized in a variety of dental treatments.

Features of Dental Burs

Dental burs, which are used to cut hard tissues such as bone or tooth, have revolutionized the practice of dentistry and are now widely available.

They are often constructed of stainless steel, diamond grit or particles, and tungsten carbide, and they are attached to a dental drill that incorporates an air turbine to provide the necessary power. The dental bur was invented over 300 years ago and is still extensively used today.

It is made up of three parts: the head, the neck, and the shank of the dental bur. The blades are contained within the head, which produces cutting action through rotating motion. Because the bur has different properties, the blades are positioned at different degrees angles.

In the dental laboratory, dentists use this instrument to bore through tooth enamel, clean and remove plaque from the tooth’s surface, and dental technicians use this instrument to prepare dental materials. Before placing a filling, it is necessary to remove any decayed tooth material.

There are many different types of dental burs, each with a distinct form and size that is tailored for a specific function. They can rotate at speeds of up to 500,000 revolutions per minute (rpm).

They can be constructed wholly of tungsten carbide, or they can be made totally of steel and then coated with a strong coating, such as tungsten carbide coating, before being used. Burs come in a variety of forms and sizes to suit a wide range of applications, cutting and drilling capabilities.

Classification of Dental Burs

Below, we give a comprehensive classification and types of burs

Classifying dental burs according to the type of material;

The composition of dental burs is a crucial consideration. In the past, they were made of steel, but nowadays new materials have emerged that provide improved cutting qualities and durability. We can distinguish between two main types:

  • Tungsten carbide dental burs (carbide burs)
  • Diamond dental burs

Classifying dental burs according to their shank

This is the second simplest classification and the differences between the three types lie in their size, the speed at which they can work and their functions. There are:

  • Turbine dental burs

Undoubtedly the fastest rotary instrument calls for a dental bur with special features. The end is exposed and the diameter of the shank is 1.6 mm.

They are also known as high rotation burs, high-speed burs or FG burs (Friction Grip). Additionally, referred to by the acronyms FGM (Friction Grip Mini) or FGL (Friction Grip Long) according to their shank length.

  • Contra-angle dental burs

Their diameter is 2.35 mm and commonly you’ll see a notch at the non-active end. They are also known as RA burs (Right Angle), CA burs or simply low-speed burs.

  • Handpiece burs

Like the contra-angle burs, the shank diameter is also 2.35 mm, but it is a considerably longer bur. It is also known as an HP bur or bur for straight dental handpieces.

Classifying dental burs according to their shape

There are so many of them! They are named after their similarities to other, more everyday, objects. Here are just a few:

  • Ball burs

Perhaps the most common of all, they are used to open cavities or create retentions in dental surgery and also to create grooves for prosthetics. They are also useful for opening and shaping the pulp chamber after pulpotomy.

  • Cylindrical burs

There are flat-tipped, round-tipped and pointed burs, each designed for a particular purpose. For example, the flat-tipped cylindrical bur is used for shaping the chamfer in ceramic crown preparations.

  • Conical burs

There are rounded and flat-tipped burs. The latter, for example, is used for inlay preparations or for chamfering and counter-chamfering the finishing line, among other uses.

  • Inverted Cone burs

Among other applications, its uses include the opening of cavities or creating retentions (undercuts) in dental surgery. It can also be used to form the occlusal surface.

  • Flame burs

It’s the ideal shape to allow a delicate definition of the proximal or buccolingual walls in surgery or prosthetics.

  • Wheel Bur

This is often used to create mechanical retentions, deep cuts and occlusal shapes

Classification of dental burs according to head diameter

This is the most concise classification of dental burs. The size of the bur is determined by the diameter of the active part of the bur and there are many, many different sizes.

Now that we know these 5 classifications of dental burs, it should be really easy to understand ISO coding. This coding allows us to speak the same language when choosing a dental bur from various manufacturers.

Classifying dental burs according to their grit size

The grit size of dental burs determines how aggressively they can erode the tooth. The coloured ring, which is usually found on the neck of the bur, determines the coarseness of the grain.

This coding is standardised by the ISO regulatory and the most common colours are:

  • White: Superfine
  • Yellow: Extra fine
  • Red: Fine
  • Blue: Standard
  • Green: Coarse
  • Black: Super Coarse

Major Types of Burs and their uses

Dental burs are available in a variety of shapes and sizes to accommodate the numerous dental procedures that a dental clinic provides.

Diamond burs and carbide burs are the two most prevalent types of burs that are used nowadays.

The following is a list of the many dental burs and their applications.

Diamond Burs

Using this form of dental bur, you can polish your teeth and cut smoothly when you need to. They are crafted from diamond, which is the world’s most difficult substance to work with.

During dental surgery, diamond burs are employed when high precision is necessary. The lifespan of diamond burs is significantly longer than that of any man-made material, making this form of dental bur extremely long-lasting and reliable.

Steel burs

This type of dental bur is used to prepare a tooth for cavity treatments. In comparison to other dental burs like diamond burs and ceramic burs, steel burs tend to be less durable and break more easily.

Ceramic burs

This type of dental bur does not heat up as much as other dental burs because ceramic does not conduct as much heat. This type of dental bur is used to adjust acrylic pieces that are used in dental procedures.

Carbide Burs

Tungsten carbide is used in the production of these burs. In comparison to steel, it is three times stiffer.

Because it is composed of such a long-lasting material, it can maintain its sharpness for an extended period, making it a great cutting instrument.

Carbide burs, which are similar to diamond burs in appearance, are available in a range of forms. The perforations made in the bur’s head allow them to be excellent cutting devices while producing the least amount of debris possible.

In terms of removing metal-based restorations, as well as trimming and polishing macro-filled and hybrid composites, carbide burs are more convenient to use.

These are used to prepare teeth for dental fillings and to form bones before undergoing additional treatments. They can also be used to remove old fillings from the teeth.

Cross-cut Tapered Fissure

Because cross-cut burs have more cuts in the blade than other types of burs, they provide a more efficient cutting action while generating less trash.

Fissure burs with a tapered crosscut are used for sectioning multi-rooted teeth and lowering the height of the crown.


The world of dental burs is very broad and it doesn’t end here, there are also other types of burs that are designed for specific dental procedures, for example:

Dental laboratory burs

In this category, there is a wide variety of dental laboratory burs designed for working on metal, plaster, ceramics, acrylics, etc.

Dental and maxillofacial surgery burst

There is a wide variety of burs for different surgical actions, e.g. bone-cutting burs, alveolar ridge expansion burs, sinus lift burs, dental implantology burs, etc.


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