Objectives: to develop an apparatus for the detection of early caries lesions in enamel using the full extent of the tooth fluorescence spectrum, through the integration of a laser diode, fiber optics, filters and one portable spectrometer connected to a computer, all commercially available; to evaluate the developed device in clinical and laboratory tests, and compare its performance with commercial equipment. Methods: clinical examinations were performed in patients with indication for exodontics of premolars. After examinations, the patients underwent surgery and the teeth were stored individually. The optical measurements were repeated approximately two months after extraction, on the same sites previously examined, then histological analysis was carried out. Results: the spectral detector has presented high specificity and moderate sensitivity when applied to differentiate between healthy and damaged tissues, with no significant differences from the performance of the commercial equipment. The developed device is able to detect initial damages in enamel, with depth of approximately 300 μm. Conclusions: we successfully demonstrated the development of a simple and portable system based in laser-induced fluorescence for caries detection, assembled from common commercial parts. As the spectral detector acquires a complete recording of the spectrum from each tissue, it is possible to use it for monitoring developments of caries lesions.