Dental Burs - Differences Explained

Dental burs are made of steel, stainless steel, tungsten carbide burs and diamond grit to cut hard tissues like bone or tooth.

Diamond burs tend to be used with high speed handpieces to grind away harder surfaces such as enamel. They have a relatively short lifespan.

Tungsten carbide is a hard material that’s much tougher than steel. Cuts in the head make them longer lasting and very effective as there’s little debris build up, and they stay sharp for a longer time than steel. They’re typically used to cut tooth structure rather than grind like diamond burs.

Steel burs are a low cost solution that are softer and more flexible than tungsten carbide burs. They blunt faster than carbide, but are more resistant to breaking.

The tip of the bur can be a wide variety of shapes: round burs and pear burs are used for cavity preparation and creating access points and undercuts. Cross-cut burs have cuts in the blade to prevent debris build up, and are used for sectioning and shaping teeth. Finishing burs are used for finishing restorations and shaping soft tissues.

What Size Of The Dental Bur Shall You Use?


All dental burs are consisted of a head, a neck and a shank.

The heads are made of different material like stainless steel, tungsten carbide bur and diamond grit to cater for different purposes.

The neck connects the head and the shank.

The shanks are usually made of stainless steel and have the different end to attach or insert to the handpiece.


What is the bur shank?

There are three main often used shank types:

* Long straight (HP) shank.

* Standard length friction grip shank (FG).

* Latch angle (LA or RA) shank.


FG shank bur is mostly used on the high speed turbine handpiece.

HP shank burs are suitable to use on the straight low speed handpiece.

The Latch angle LA (RA) shank bur is working on the contra angle slow speed handpiece.


FG shank diameter is 1.6mm(1/16 inch).

Latch-type Shank (RA) shank is generally 20 mm in length with a 2.35 mm diameter and fits in low speed handpieces and contra angles.

Latch-type shanks are often available with the same shapes as friction grip (FG) shanks. 

HP shank diameter is 2.35mm(3/32 inch).