Over the course of time B-Tree indexes may become fragmented because of updating/deleting/inserting data. In SQLServer terminology we can have internal (index page which is half empty ) and external (logical page order doesn't correspond physical order). Rebuilding index is very similar to dropping and re-creating it.
We can re-build an index with
ALTER INDEX index_name REBUILD;
By default rebuilding index is offline operation which locks the table and prevents DML against it , but many RDBMS allow online rebuilding.
Also, some DB vendors offer alternatives to index rebuilding such as
REORGANIZE (SQLServer) or