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Dental Burs: A Guide to Types and Uses

Dental Burs: A Guide to Types and Uses

Posted on September 7, 2023

When it comes to dental procedures, precision and efficiency are crucial. Dental burs play a vital role in achieving these goals. These small, rotating tools are used by dental professionals to cut, shape, and polish various dental materials. 

With a wide range of dental burs available, each designed for specific tasks, it’s essential to understand the different types and their uses. Let’s delve into the world of dental burs and uncover the key varieties you should know about.

What are Dental Burs?

Traditionally, burs are composed of three integral parts: the shank, the neck, and the head. These rotary instruments play a crucial role in effortlessly eliminating both rigid and soft oral tissues. 

Available in a diverse array of shapes, sizes, and abrasive levels, burs showcase multiple cutting edges and typically include two or more razor-sharp blades. They excel in the removal of substances like tooth enamel and bone with minimal exertion, while also lending themselves to more delicate procedures like tooth polishing.

Types of Dental Burs

Dental burs come in a selection of materials, with stainless steel, tungsten carbide, and diamond grit being among the most popular. The choice of bur material is dictated by the specific purpose of the tool.

Stainless Steel

Known for their versatility and impressive edge durability, steel burs are used for dentin removal and cavity preparation. They are robust and can lower patient discomfort, however, might blunt quicker than their diamond counterparts.


Carbide burs are the workhorses of the dental world. Made from tungsten carbide, these burs are known for their exceptional cutting efficiency and durability. They come in various shapes, each suited for different procedures. 

Carbide burs are commonly used for cavity preparation, crown and bridge work, and removing old fillings. They can be more costly than steel burs but they offer excellent performance.


Diamond burs are valued for their incredible precision and versatility. Their cutting surfaces are embedded with diamond particles, making them ideal for intricate work, such as shaping, contouring, and refining restorations. 

Diamond burs come in different grits, ranging from coarse to fine, allowing dentists to achieve the desired level of smoothness and accuracy.

Diamond dental burs demonstrate remarkable efficacy in the abrasion of enamel and bone. Due to the coarse texture of the material, they tend to yield a rough surface in the aftermath.

 The densely compressed surface provides precision at its finest, facilitating quicker and more seamless incisions, making it an ideal choice for crown and veneer treatments. However, diamond burs might tend to have shorter lifespan than other types.

Dental Burs Classification

Dental burs can be categorised using various methods, including:

  • Shape
  • Grit size
  • Diameter

Each bur can be identified using the ISO Numbering System.

ISO Numbering System

You’ll see that each bur has a distinct 15-digit code, referred to as an ISO number.

This code is divided into six sections: bur type/shank type/bur length/head shape/grit size/ maximum head diameter.

Dental Bur Shapes

Dental burs can be categorised based on their shapes. These shapes are commonly known as ’round’, ‘pear’, ‘flat-end’, and ‘cross-cut’. The ISO system is used to define each of these shapes.

The shape of a bur determines its intended use:

Round burs: Suitable for excavating tooth decay, preparing cavities, creating access points prior to extraction.

Pear burs: Frequently used for excavating, trimming, and refining; capable of forming undercuts for filling materials.

Flat-end burs: Employed for removing and modifying tooth structure; useful for rotary intraoral tooth preparation and adjustment.

Cross-cut burs: very precise, effectively reduces the accumulation of debris during procedures.

Dental Bur Grit Sizes

Dental burs exhibit a diverse array of grit or grain sizes, imparting varying degrees of abrasiveness. As a rule of thumb, burs with finer grits are gentler on hard tissues due to their reduced abrasion potential.

Broadly speaking, coarser-grit burs find their purpose in efficient material removal within the oral cavity, whereas burs featuring finer grits are specifically designed for the meticulous tasks of polishing and refining.

To simplify identification, the level of abrasiveness is often communicated through a colour-coded band encircling the shaft of the bur.

  • White: ultrafine (ISO: 594)
  • Yellow: super-fine (ISO: 504)
  • Red: fine (ISO: 514)
  • Blue/No Ring: standard (ISO: 524)
  • Green: coarse (ISO: 534)
  • Black: super coarse (ISO: 544)

Dental Bur Head Diameter

An additional method for classifying burs involves considering the diameter of a bur’s head. This dimension plays a pivotal role in determining the bur’s applicability in various dental procedures.

Burs with smaller head sizes are particularly suited for intricate and delicate tasks that demand precision and meticulousness. On the other hand, burs equipped with larger heads find their essential utility in the realm of oral surgery, where their increased surface area and robustness effectively address the demands of more complex procedures.

This differentiation in head diameter allows dental professionals to select the most appropriate bur for a diverse range of treatments, ensuring optimal outcomes across the spectrum of dental care.

Below, you’ll find the range of burs we have available in our online store:

Rose Head Burs

These burs have a rounded head with multiple cutting edges, making them ideal for contouring and removing material.

Flat End Burs

Featuring a flat cutting surface, these burs are excellent for smoothing and finishing procedures.

Round End Burs

With a rounded cutting surface, these burs are versatile and can be used for various tasks, such as cavity preparation and enamel reduction.

Taper Conical Burs

These burs have a tapered shape, allowing for precise access and preparation in tight areas.

Flame Ogival End Burs

Characterised by a flame-shaped head, these burs are useful for creating undercuts and accessing difficult to reach areas.

Straight Ogival End Burs

These burs have a straight, rounded head, making them suitable for general-purpose cutting and contouring.

Round Ball Type Burs

With a spherical shape, these burs are ideal for smoothing and shaping concave surfaces.

Single Inverted Cone Burs

These burs have a cone shape with the tip pointing inward, making them useful for crown preparations and adjusting fillings.

Special Extra Shape Burs

These burs come in unique shapes designed for specific applications, such as creating retention grooves or accessing hard to reach areas.

As a trusted supplier of dental equipment and accessories, F2 Medical Supplies understand the importance of reliable and high-quality tools for dental professionals. With our vast assortment of dental burs, encompassing various shapes, sizes, and materials, we cater to the diverse needs of practitioners. 

Whether it’s diamond burs for precise cutting or carbide burs for efficient removal, our website offers a seamless ordering experience. With F2 Medical Supplies, dental professionals can easily access the finest dental burs and enhance their clinical outcomes with confidence.