Burs for dental drilling hand-pieces

Published: 09th March 2011
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Few folk look forward to the noise of the dental drill yet if it was not for the drill tool and the bur, the cutting bit, most of us would be in far greater pain than the shorter unpleasantness we suffer. For sure, that shrill whine of the drill is one of the most despised noises known to man but without it we would have lots more piercing cries of pain.

Development of drilling teeth

There is examples of dental drilling going back 7,000 years and a pneumatic powered drill burr was produced in the mid 19th century. In the early 20th century electrically powered dentist drills were on the market which could spin at speeds of 3,000rpm. The dentist drill we recognise today is an air turbine drill and was initially developed in Wellington, NZ in 1949 by SIr John Walsh. This was further developed in America became more widely available in the late 1950s. Modern dentist drills usually rotate at rates up to 400,000 rpm with some even going up to 800,000 rpm. The slow drill, the one we usually dislike even more with its heavy grind turns at about 40,000 rpm because of the additional torque needed to remove the final aspects of the decay from the tooth.

How is a bur designed?

The actual cutting tool is called the dental bur is usually constructed of a single piece of extremely tough metal. This is often steel and has a tungsten carbide coating but sometimes completely comprises tungsten carbide. Some burs also have a diamond coating on the drilling tip.

Burs have three parts - the head, neck and shank. They are made in various designs and dimensions depending on the different drilling procedure required.

The head holds blades and these are the actual cutting tips. These are positioned at various angles to create different cutting finishes.

The main shapes of burs are round, inverted cone, plain fissure, tapered fissure and each are used for the majority of dental cavity work.

Identification of burs

There is a cross national numbering standard employed for the burs which makes it easier for dentists or dental practice staff to re-order dental burs from dental product suppliers. This means there is no need to cross-reference model numbers between suppliers.

Round burs have the smallest numbers usually below 10.

Straight fissure burs start at 50.

Cross-cut straight fissure burs start at 500 while tapered-fissure burs begin with 700.

Dental burs are the piece of dentistry tooling that we dread the most as it is the component which cuts into the tooth itself yet without dentist burs, we would be suffering much greater agony for far more time.

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