The uniformity of laser treated hard tissue surfaces depends on the laser beam quality and the degree of spatial overlap between adjacent laser pulses. Since the surface roughness or surface topography is expected to influence adhesion, our aim in this study was to assess the influence of the surface topography on the adhesion of composite to both enamel and dentin treated at the optimal conditions for the efficient ablation of those tissues with the Er:YAG laser. Human dentin and bovine enamel samples were uniformly irradiated by an Er:YAG laser operating with a pulse duration of 20-30-μs. The laser pulses were 300-μm in diameter with the laser operating in a single TEM00 transverse mode, and the distance between laser spots was varied from 50-200-μm. A motion control system and a pressurized spray system incorporating a microprocessor controlled pulsed nozzle for water delivery, were used to ensure uniform treatment of the entire surface. Shear bond testing was used to evaluate the adhesive strength in order to assess the suitability of laser treated surfaces for bonding. The effect of the degree of overlap of adjacent laser pulses on the surface roughness and the shear bond strength of composite to enamel and dentin is reported.© (2005) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.