An evaluation of Polymer Burs for Caries Management by BSc Dental Therapy Undergraduates at a UK training establishment.

Project Details


The aim of this educational evaluation is to ascertain if the use of polymer burs increases student confidence when managing carious lesions on patients, following the pre-clinical phase of their training programme. Polymer burs are licensed for use in the UK and are already available on the UPDA clinical floor. Their use does not alter patient care or the treatment type offered to patients.
The research project aims to to evaluate if the use of polymer burs aids in developing student confidence in managing established carious lesions and to explore if this has any effect on reducing student dental therapists’ anxiety in the managing established carious lesions. Alongside this the project looks to see if polymer bur use increases the likelihood of student dental therapists undertaking the management of established carious lesions, opposed to referring back to the dental student for management.

Layperson's description

Polymer dental burs can be used in a dental handpiece (drill) to clear away dental decay from diseased teeth in order to prepare a cavity ready for a conventional restoration. Polymer burs are used in exactly the same way as conventional dental bur, which are traditionally made from stainless steel or tungsten carbide and in some cases are coated in diamond grit. Polymer burs are designed to selectively remove soft decayed tooth tissue only. The principle is that tooth tissue which is unaffected by decay cannot be inadvertently removed when polymer burs are utilised because the polymer is too soft to cut unaffected tooth tissue. Traditional dental burs are hard enough to cut through unaffected tooth tissues and the extent of the cavity preparation is determined by the clinician’s ability to estimate where the boundary between decayed and unaffected tooth tissue is.

Research topic:
This evaluation aims to trial polymer burs on the student clinic and evaluate student views about them. It is hoped that students may feel more confident about managing decayed teeth if they are using a bur that cannot inadvertently cut through healthy tooth tissues. The polymer bur may be useful in the future teaching environment to help inexperienced clinicians understand the zones of tooth decay and recognise when to stop cutting the tooth.
Effective start/end date26/09/173/12/17


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