The Efficiency of the Er: YAG Laser and PhotonInduced Photoacoustic Streaming (PIPS) as an Activation Method in Endodontic Irrigation: A Literature Review

J Lasers Med Sci. Summer 2020;11(3):316-334. doi: 10.34172/jlms.2020.53. Epub 2020 Jun 21.


In the field of endodontics, lasers have been used for a long time for the optimization of Endodontic irrigation in particular. The laser-activated irrigation (LAI) technique is based on the photomechanical effects of the lasers at low settings. They create specific cavitation phenomena and acoustic streaming in intracanal fluids. More recently, a new technique with a Er:YAG laser has been used with sub-ablative energy (20 mJ, 15 Hz) and ultra-short pulses (50 µs). This leads to intracanal cavitation and shockwaves as a result of photoacoustic and photomechanical effects. This phenomenon is called photon-induced photoacoustic streaming (PIPS). PIPS and Laser activated irrigation are described in the literature as a revolutionary and powerful method to activate the irrigant; however, systematic literature on this topic is missing. This review compares the literature on Er:YAG LAI and PIPS on endodontic irrigation with other irrigation methods. An article search was performed on the PubMed database using a series of keywords related to endodontic irrigation, including Er:YAG LAI and PIPS; 59 articles were selected for the review according to the inclusion and exclusion criteria. No in vivo study was found. The Er:YAG LAI and PIPS outperformed other methods in 33 of the 59 articles. There was a great variety in the study designs including bacterial incubation time, laser parameters, irrigation protocols, and irrigating solution used. The evidence suggests that the Er:YAG LAI and PIPS are promising in canal disinfection as well as debris and smear layer removal. However, the large variety in the study methods makes the results less significant. Further studies are needed to better evaluate the efficiency of these techniques, especially in vivo studies.

Keywords: Endodontic irrigation; Er:YAG laser; Laser activated irrigation; Photon-induced photoacoustic streaming.

Publication types

  • Review