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An Overview of Dental Burs

 

Dental burs are designed with different flute angles and cutting characteristics specific to the task for which they are designed. Operative or cavity preparation burs have flutes (sometimes called “dentates”) that are cut deeper and wider, creating a higher degree of aggressive enamel cutting with increased speed and efficiency. Typically, these operative burs are either straight bladed (plain) or crosscut. Straightbladed burs cut smoothly but are slower, especially with harder materials; crosscut burs can cut faster due to the lack of debris build-up. In the case of diamond-coated burs, a smooth shape is created and a fine-, medium- or coarse-ground diamond coating is applied over it. Various bur shapes can be selected, depending on the particular clinical case and the clinician’s preference. Shapes include round, inverted cone, straight fissure, tapered fissure and pear-shaped – each available in a variety of diameters or sizes. 

 
Different shapes of tungsten carbide burs – flat fissure, plain and crosscut – have been found to result in the same cutting force when used in traditional air driven handpieces with the same levels of torque.16 As such, shape does not appear to influence cutting force. In addition, specialized restorative burs are available for specific tasks. These include depth-cutting burs – which consist of horizontal ridges across a diamond-fissure bur, providing guidance for the depth to which a fixed restoration preparation should be cut– and end-cutting burs, which are used to trim the floor of mesial and distal preparations in Class II cavities with smooth sides, as they help reduce any possibility of impacting the surface of the adjacent tooth with the cutting surface of a bur. End-cutting burs can also be used to finish the pulpal floor of Class I and Class II cavities, thereby avoiding contact of a cutting surface with the prepared cavity walls. 
 
As with sandpaper, diamond burs come in a variety of grits. The greater the coarseness the more tooth surface will be removed. Finer grits are used when closer attention to detail is required. For example, restorations often require a finer grit bur to smooth rough edges and margins.
 
The following are some of the different types of burs and diamonds and their uses:
 
Tungsten carbide burs
Recently have been engineered that are more sharply dentated than a crosscut bur and have a unique geometry in the design of their blades. This creates a bur that cuts faster into tooth structure or dental materials and does not grab or stall during cutting. These innovative burs cut quickly, efficiently and smoothly through metals, composites, enamel and amalgam, saving time and money for clinicians. 
 
Finishing burs
Finishing burs fabricated from tungsten carbide have more flutes closer together and shallower than do operative burs, for the fine finishing and polishing of dental materials. Either diamond or tungsten carbide finishing burs can be used to remove composite and to improve the smoothness of the restoration prior to polishing
with cups/discs/liquid polish, which optimizes smoothness and thus reduces the potential for biofilm development on the composite’s surface.
 
Cleaning and sterilizing burs
Following completion of a patient’s procedure, the burs must be examined. Worn or damaged burs and any single-use, disposable burs must be discarded and safely disposed of. Using a worn or damaged bur results in poorly executed and inaccurate preparations, trauma to dental hard tissue, and reduced efficiency. In addition, in the case of electric handpieces, worn or damaged burs reduce cutting efficiency and cause the unit to compensate for this by increasing power, which can result in overheating of the handpiece head and burning of a patient’s oral mucosa.
 
Diamonds with ceramic bond
These abrasives are used on extremely hard materials. Diamond burs: Zirconia and lithium disilicate materials are difficult to cut through, making diamond burs the tool of choice.
 
Endodontic access burs
 These burs have a long, tapered shape that creates a funnel shape in the tooth for easier access to root canals.
 
Diamond grinders
These allow for cutting of ceramic-fused-to-metal alloys, titanium alloys, hard zirconium oxide ceramics, and more.
 
Although most burs are designed to resist wear and tear, they do tend to wear out quickly. Clinicians need to be aware of this, because a dull bur could damage a tooth and/or cause a patient to feel pain. Many burs are available in sterile, single-use packages, allowing the dental office to save time on sterilizing and autoclaving dental tools.
 

 

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