By Dr. Fadi Swaida
Dental burs are a vital tool required for almost every dental treatment and procedure. They are necessary for cutting, grinding, and removing hard and soft tissue and are designed to attach to the rotary dental handpiece for fast and efficient dental work.
Types of Dental Burs and Their Use
The two most common types of dental burs are tungsten carbide burs and diamond burs. Within those general categories, there are sub-types of burs that come in different shapes, blade configurations, and head angles to suit a variety of procedures.
- Tungsten Carbide Burs
Carbide burs are made from tungsten carbide and three times more robust than steel. Due to the hardness of the metal, they are ideally suited to cutting work such as preparing cavities, cutting through metal fillings, and shaping bone during dental implant surgery. They are also often used for crown removal during endodontic procedures.
Unlike diamond burs, they don’t grind the enamel, leaving a smoother surface and reducing the amount of vibration on the handpiece.
- Diamond Burs
Diamond burs are composed of a stainless-steel frame coated in diamond powder available in various grits. The level of the grit determines the type of procedure the burs can be used for.
Diamond burs are typically used for precision shaping and polishing, but as diamond is one of the hardest known materials, they are often used to cut through zirconia or grind porcelain during the preparation and placement of veneers and crowns.
The Benefits of Single Patient Use Burs and Instruments
Single-patient-use burs and instruments such as probes, mirrors, or procedural kits, are designed to be used and immediately discarded instead of sterilized for the next patient. They have recently gained popularity due to the dramatic reduction in patient and staff infections, and the decreased cost of replacement which can help dental practices to save money.
- Better Hygiene
Even if your practice uses exceptional cleaning and sterilization techniques, a small number of bacteria can withstand the extreme temperature and pressure of an autoclave. Single-patient-use burs and instruments improve your infection control by minimizing the patient-to-patient transfer of oral microorganisms.
While most patients with strong immune systems can withstand mildly contaminated burs and instruments, immunocompromised patients or patients with a significant co-morbidity are at a high risk of infection. Single-patient-use burs and instruments eliminate this risk, especially during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
All types of burs become clogged with enamel and dentin throughout a procedure, which can reduce the cutting efficiency. Clogged burs require additional pressure to achieve the same cutting intensity, which can not only irritate the patient but also damage expensive handpieces and result in longer chair times.
Using a new single-patient-use bur for each procedure keeps chair time to a minimum to reduce fatigue, keeps handpiece bearings in good condition, and provides a more comfortable experience for patients.
Cleaning and sterilizing instruments and burs can increase your overhead costs due to utilities, additional staff, and extra rental space needed to store autoclaves and sterilizing equipment.
Single patient use instruments are a cost-efficient solution to patient care that significantly reduces your overheads and enables you to focus on providing outstanding service to your patients. Despite their low-cost, single-patient-use burs offer the same strength and grinding and cutting ability as their reusable counterparts.
The right bur is critical to a successful dental treatment with different sizes, shapes, grits serving different purposes. Single-patient-use burs are now preferred over reusable burs as they offer greater infection control and provide a better patient experience.
About the author
Dr. Fadi Swaida first graduated from the University of Western Ontario with an Honors BSc in Biology before graduating from the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Dentistry. He is an active member of his church and enjoys football and being by the water! His outgoing personality and fun-loving character will ensure you always feel welcome at Dentist North York.