Inside Dental Products — March 2013
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Category Spotlight: Burs and Diamonds

Burs and Diamonds

The Best Tools for the Job

Available in a multitude of sizes, shapes, and grits, dental burs and diamonds are extremely robust and versatile tools in the dental office. Used for everything from major overhauls of tooth structure, to cavity preparation, to the finishing of final restorations, burs and diamonds permeate almost every case. With such a variety of burs and diamonds available, clinicians are able to pick and choose which are best for them, while keeping in mind that certain burs may be best for certain procedures. With a little research into the different types of burs and diamonds out there, clinicians may use that knowledge to ensure that they are using the most advantageous shape, grit, and material for each patient’s specific dental needs.

Shape The different shapes of burs and diamonds available on the dental market include—but not limited to—round, conical, straight, and even football-shaped. Each shape is specifically designed for certain types of procedures, with smaller, pointed edges intended to perform more precise cutting, and rounder burs to remove larger amounts of tooth structure. For example, many clinicians use round burs to remove caries, and flat end burs to cut away tooth structure.

Burs of all shapes are sometimes designed with “cross-cuts” in the blades. Cross-cuts improve the design of the bur because they reduce vibration while it is in use, making the cutting process easier and more predictable.


Dental burs and diamonds also come in a variety of grits. Coarse grits are best reserved for cases where large amounts of tooth structure need to be removed, while the finer grits are used when the case requires a close attention to detail and fine-tuning. Finer grit burs are often used once a restoration is placed to smooth margins and rough edges.


Some dental burs are made from steel, others from carbide, and still others from diamonds. Both steel and carbide burs are often made with the element tungsten, which makes the materials harder and more durable than they would be on their own. Something that clinicians should keep in mind when choosing burs is that some types of materials are better than others for cutting through other materials—a metal crown may require a different bur than tooth structure.

Wear and Tear

While burs and diamonds are excellent at removing tooth structure, because of their size and the precise nature of their work, they wear out very quickly. Many burs are designed to resist wear and tear, but clinicians should be aware that after a certain number of uses, burs are no longer as sharp. Some manufacturers have side-stepped this problem by designing burs that are meant to be discarded after one use. Some of these “one-use” burs are even packaged individually in small, sterile packages, reducing the time needed for prep and clean up.

Specialty Burs

Some burs and diamonds are specially designed for specific procedures. For example, there are endodontic burs that are designed to give the clinician straight-line access to the root canal for fast and effective lateral shaping of the canal entrance. Other burs have blades that are better suited for cutting soft, carious dentin, while leaving surrounding, healthy dentin relatively unscathed. Still other burs are designed especially for the laboratory technician and for working with models.


With the number of burs available on the dental market, clinicians are able to custom-plan each case, and ultimately use the best bur or diamond for the job.