This study investigated the effects of tungsten-carbide grinding on the surface characteristics and mechanical strength of dental 3 mol% yttria-stabilized zirconia (3Y-TZP). Two types of tungsten-carbide burs (TC), 6-blade (TC1) and 8-blade (TC2) were used to grind 3Y-TZP, in a dental air-turbine handpiece with water-cooling and were also subjected to air-particle abrasion (APA): TC1 + APA and TC2 + APA; and rubber polishing (RP): TC1 + RP and TC2 + RP; one group received only rubber-polishing RP. The control group received no treatment. Surface characterization was examined by surface roughness (Ra) and atomic force microscopy. Specimens were also observed with scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and X-ray-diffraction (XRD) for microstructure and crystalline phases. A piston-on-three-balls biaxial-flexural strength (BFS) test was performed with 15 samples-per-group and the broken specimen were observed under SEM to investigate the fracture origin pattern. One-way ANOVA, Kruskal-Wallis test and Weibull analysis were performed at α = 0.05. Groups TC1 and TC2 had the lowest mean BFS (p < 0.05) with up to 74 % reduction in strength. APA and RP both significantly increased the mean BFS after tungsten-carbide grinding but was still less than the control (p < 0.05). Compared to the control, the mean BFS was significantly reduced for all groups except for the RP group (p < 0.05). APA and rubber-polishing following TC2 grinding had significant higher mean BFS than those following TC1 grinding respectively (p < 0.05). SEM revealed distinct micro-cracks after tungsten-carbide grinding. Tungsten-carbide burs (6- and 8-blade) are not recommended for zirconia grinding due to the significant reduction of biaxial-flexural strength and observed micro-structural surface and subsurface damage. Copyright © 2020 The Academy of Dental Materials. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.