Infrared laser ablation of dental enamel: Influence of an applied water layer on ablation rate and peripheral damage

N. Ashouri, R. Shori, J. M. Cheung, D. Fried

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Studies have shown that a water spray may augment the laser ablation rate of dental hard tissues in addition to reducing heat accumulation. However, the mechanism of augmentation is controversial and poorly understood. The influence of an optically thick applied water layer on the ablation rate was investigated at wavelengths in which water is a primary absorber and the magnitude of absorption varies markedly. Water was manually applied with a pipette (∼5-10 μl drops) and troughs were cut in enamel blocks using a laser scanning system. Q-switched and free running Er:YSGG (2.79 μm) and Er:YAG (2.94 μm), free running Ho:YAG and 9.6 μm TEA CO2 laser systems were investigated. The addition of water increased the rate of ablation and produced a more desirable surface morphology during enamel ablation with all the erbium systems. Ablation was markedly more efficient for the Q-switched erbium lasers than for the longer free-running laser systems when a water layer was added. Although, the addition of a thick water layer reduced the rate of ablation during CO2 laser ablation, the addition of the water removed undesirable deposits of non-apatite mineral phases from the crater surface. There was extensive peripheral damage after irradiation with the Ho:YAG laser with and without added water without effective ablation of enamel. The results of this study suggest that water augments the ablation of dental enamel by aiding in the removal of loosely attached deposits of non-apatite mineral phases from the crater surface, thus producing a more desirable crater surface morphology. The non-apatite mineral phases interfere with subsequent laser pulses during erbium laser irradiation reducing the rate of ablation and their removal aids in maintaining efficient ablation during multiple pulse irradiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)72-78
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes
EventLasers in Dentistry VII - San Jose, CA, United States
Duration: Jan 21 2001Jan 22 2001


  • CO laser
  • Dental enamel
  • Er:YAG laser
  • Er:YSGG laser
  • Ho:YAG laser
  • Laser ablation
  • Water augmentation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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