Finishing and Polishing Instruments

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    Finishing and Polishing Instruments are used to finish and polish dental material surfaces to improve their aesthetic quality.

    There are many different types of finishing and polishing instruments, and many instruments have overlapping capa- bilities, which can make it very difficult to choose. We have tried to present the trade-offs to give you guidance on choosing the best instrument for the procedure.

    There are three main materials that these instruments are made of:

    1. Aluminum Oxide 

    2. Silicon Carbide 

    3. Diamond Grit


    The non-diamond abrasives provide good results for removing, contouring, and polishing dental materials. Silicon carbide is generally the preferred abrasive for porcelain, acrylic, and gold, as it will not cause discoloration. Aluminum oxide is the preferred choice for composites and enamel.

    Diamond abrasives are more expensive, last longer, have a faster working time, and provide a mirror finish. These instruments are preferred for porcelain, ceramic, zirconia, and metals.

    Just like diamonds and carbides, finishing and polishing instruments come in a range of shapes that are suited for certain materials, procedures, or restoration areas. So the choice of instrument material and shape will be driven by both the procedure and the dental material to be worked with.

    Flexible mylar discs and strips made of aluminum oxide (called composite discs/strips) are the most popular choice for finishing and polishing composites.


    Diamond strips are a reusable, long-lasting alternative to the mylar strips for interproximal finishing and polishing on all materials.

    Also for composites, there are diamond single-step and two-step systems for practitioners who prefer to use point- and cup-shaped instruments. These can be disposable single-use items or autoclavable multi-use instruments. Single-use items provide convenience, while multi-use instruments are more economical. The two-step systems require more time but should provide a higher luster polish to the restoration.

    Porcelain polishers generally come in three grits (coarse, medium, and fine) and can be made from aluminum oxide or diamond. The aluminum oxide porcelain polishers are more economical but are less durable and procedures take longer. The diamond porcelain polishers are more effective on the newest restorative materials. Both types offer points, cups, and discs to suit all procedures.


    Silicon carbide is the preferred material for amalgam/gold polishers and acrylic polishers because it won’t cause discoloration. These polishers come in a variety of shapes suitable for these materials.

    Grinding and finishing abrasives and cutting discs provide fast contouring and finishing. They are made of aluminum oxide, silicon carbide, and diamond to best work with specific dental materials: Green stones (silicon carbide) for porcelain, composites, and gold/silver, white stones (aluminum oxide) for enamel, composites, and porcelain, and diamond abrasives for ceramic, zirconia, and aluminum restorations.

    Finishing and Polishing Instruments Usage Guide