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5/31/2018 » 6/3/2018
2018 OSAP Annual Conference

FAQ - Instruments & Equipment - 2014
 FAQ -  Instruments & Equipment -  2014



No one seems to know if burs in the dental office, ready for use, need to be sterilized.  They have been sterilized (or are one use) but then we have them sitting in a bur block in the cabinet. What is it? Do you know whom I could ask.  Quite a few people don’t seem to know

As you are aware, the 2003 CDC guidelines for infection control in dentistry states as follows:

Because of the physical construction of certain devices (e.g., burs, endodontic files, and broaches) cleaning can be difficult. In addition, deterioration can occur on the cutting surfaces of some carbide/diamond burs and endodontic files during processing (384) and after repeated processing cycles, leading to potential breakage during patient treatment (385–388). These factors, coupled with the knowledge that burs and endodontic instruments exhibit signs of wear during normal use, might make it practical to consider them as single-use devices. 1


Critical items used to penetrate soft tissue or bone have the greatest risk of transmitting infection and should be sterilized by heat. Semicritical items touch mucous membranes or nonintact skin and have a lower risk of transmission; because the majority of semicritical items in dentistry are heat-tolerant, they also should be sterilized by using heat. If a semicritical item is heat-sensitive, it should, at a minimum, be processed with high-level disinfection (2). 1

At the 2012 OSAP Symposium, Dr. Susan Runner of the FDA stated diamond coated burs and instruments should be considered single-use, single patient items and disposed of accordingly. 

It is recommended that you contact the bur manufacturer for further information on the product in question. The manufacturer's approved, written instructions for use (IFU) should provide appropriate information on product handling and use. The IFU will advise if the product can be reprocessed. 


1)      Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health-Care Settings — 2003. MMWR 2003;52(No. RR-17). Accessed on November 14, 2014. 





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