Erbium lasers are by now an accepted tool for performing ablative medical procedures, especially when minimal invasiveness is desired. Ideally, a minimally invasive laser cutting procedure should be fast and precise, and with minimal pain and thermal side effects. All these characteristics are significantly influenced by laser pulse duration, albeit not in the same manner. For example, high cutting efficacy and low heat deposition are characteristics of short pulses, while vibrations and ejected debris screening are less pronounced at longer pulse durations. We report on a study of ablation characteristics on dental enamel and cementum, of a chopped-pulse Er:YAG [quantum square pulse (QSP)] mode, which was designed to reduce debris screening during an ablation process. It is shown that in comparison to other studied standard Er:YAG and Er,Cr:YSGG laser pulse duration modes, the QSP mode exhibits the highest ablation drilling efficacy with lowest heat deposition and reduced vibrations, demonstrating that debris screening has a considerable influence on the ablation process. By measuring single-pulse ablation depths, we also show that tissue desiccation during the consecutive delivery of laser pulses leads to a significant reduction of the intrinsic ablation efficacy that cannot be fully restored under clinical settings by rehydrating the tooth using an external water spray.