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The study aimed to assess the efficacy of erbium laser technology compared with traditional drilling for caries removal.A systematic search was conducted through Medline via PubMed, Embase, Cochrane databases, CNKI till December 2016. Randomised controlled trials, quasi-randomized controlled trials, or controlled clinical trials with data comparing the efficacy of erbium laser technology versus traditional drilling for caries removal were included.Fourteen studies were selected in our meta-analysis. Erbium laser technology showed an increased time when removing caries compared with drilling (mean difference: 3.48, 95% confidence interval: 1.90-5.06, P < .0001). However, erbium laser technology reduced the requirement for local anesthesia (risk ratio: 0.28, 95% confidence interval: 0.13-0.62, P = .002). Erbium laser technology was also not significantly different to traditional drilling with regard to restoration loss, pulpal vitality, and postoperative sensitivity.Erbium laser technology showed an increased time for cavity preparation compared with traditional drilling. However, erbium laser technology reduced the requirement for local anesthesia. There was no significant difference between erbium laser technology and traditional drilling regarding restoration loss, pulpal vitality, and postoperative sensitivity.