The thermal side effects of carbon dioxide and neodymium:yttriumaluminum-garnet lasers limit their clinical applications. These high-powered, infrared lasers res ult in zones of charring and carbonization even in soft tissues and the bone. In contrast, the pulsed, ultraviolet radiation emitted by excimer lasers causes limited thermal, denaturative damage to surrounding tissues. Therefore, treatment of dental tissues with the nonthermal process of photoablation with excimer lasers may present alternatives to traditional dental practice. Possible future applications of the excimer laser include selective caries removal, the conditioning of tooth surfaces, and cleaning of root surfaces; the zones of necrosis are small, so that there is no residual debris.