Purpose: The aim of this investigation was to compare the root surface roughness following scaling by Er:YAG laser with the conventional ultrasonic and hand instruments. Materials and Methods: This in vitro investigation was performed on 15 premolars which had been freshly extracted due to existing periodontal problems. Scaling was performed either by an ultrasound system, hand instrument or Er:YAG laser. Each tooth was sectioned into halves, of which a second sectioning was performed to provide four samples of the same tooth for best possible comparison. Overall, 45 root surface sections with calculus and debris were grouped into three in a randomized selection manner. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was employed for surface assessment at 50X, 400X, and 750X magnification. Data were analyzed using Kruskal Wallis and ANOVA tests. Results: There was a noticeable difference in surface roughness of samples with the three different approaches. Intergroup comparison of samples showed a significant difference between laser and hand instruments, and ultrasonic and hand instruments. The hand instrument group had the least surface roughness among all groups. Conclusion: A minimal surface roughness was observed under SEM in samples treated by Er:YAG. Laser use was not superior to the other two methods of ultrasonic and hand instrumentation.
Keywords: scaling, polishing, Er:YAG laser, surface roughness, ultrasonic, SEM