It is safe to say that when you are a dentist, many people are going to avoid going to your office at all costs!

Many people will only attend a dental surgery if they feel they need to, and while it may not be the most comfortable experience for them emotionally, all dental teams need to ensure that it goes off without a hitch. One way to make sure of this is to check that all of the equipment you use to look after people’s teeth is working as it needs to.

So, with burs being one of the most used pieces of dental equipment, what are some signs that there is an issue with the bur you are using? 

Dull Cutting

When you are using dental burs, a key sign that there is an issue is that the bur is not cutting into the tooth as it needs to. This is known as dull cutting and is also noted if the bur has an increased resistance when you are using it to clean out decay from a tooth or to remove part of the tooth that is weak. This dulling can be due to a faulty drill piece or may be a sign of a dull bur. Try to change the bur first to see if the cutting improves, and if it doesn’t, it is more likely to be an issue with the drill piece.


Few patients are aware of the reason why most dental drills also spray water. As enamel is the hardest part of the human body, the burs that are used to shape or drill into it need to utilize a lot of pressure and heat, So the water that is being sprayed onto the enamel prevents the enamel from cracking or burning. A key issue with a bur is that it creates excessive heat, which can cause it to feel hot or burn the tooth, even with the use of water. Always check the heat of the burs that are placed onto the handpiece before applying them to the teeth and replace them if necessary.

Vibration or Wobbling

A dental bur needs to vibrate to create the friction required from drilling the tooth, but unusual vibrations and wobbling of the bur can suggest that the bur is not properly fitted to the handpiece or that it is misaligned. It can also point to damage and wear in the bur, which will mean that it needs to be replaced.

Odd Noises

A bur should have a solid humming sound when it is used, and any odd sounds need to be noted and explored before the bur is placed back into the mouth. So, if you hear a grinding noise, a squeaking, or any other odd sounds, this can indicate that the bur needs replacing before it impacts the efficiency of the work you are doing.

Damage and Wear

Before using any bur, you will need to inspect it for signs of damage or wear, as well as make sure that the bur is adequately disinfected. This can look like breakage, chipping, or even excessive wear down on the cutting surfaces. If you see this, you need to replace the bur that will ensure that the patient you are working on is safe and that it gives you the best performance.