The aim of this literature review is to elucidate the thermal damage inflicted on dental tissue by the various methods of cavity preparation. The heat generated by rotating instruments depends on factors such as size and type of burs, contact intermittence, torque, instrument abrasiveness, load, and the amount of tissue removed. Because these instruments present disadvantages for cavity preparation, new techniques have been sought as alternatives for dental hard tissue removal. The earliest lasers used in dentistry were the ruby and CO2 lasers, which generate heat above the pulp tissue. Since then, several studies have been conducted using laser systems: Nd:YAG, excimer lasers and erbium lasers. The Er:YAG laser demonstrated the best efficacy with less heat generation compared to the other lasers and showed similar results to those achieved with high-speed handpieces. The Er:YAG laser is an alternative method for cavity preparation and caries removal procedures without excessive thermal side effects.
Keywords: laser, temperature, high-speed, Er:YAG, cavity preparation, hard tissue