Dental researchers at the University of Adelaide are warning parents of the dangers of soft drinks, fruit juice, sports drinks and other drinks high in acidity, which form part of a "triple-threat" of permanent damage to young people's teeth.
For the first time, researchers have been able to demonstrate that lifelong damage is caused by acidity to the teeth within the first 30 seconds of acid attack.
The researchers say drinks high in acidity combined with night-time tooth grinding and reflux can cause major, irreversible damage to young people's teeth.
"Dental erosion is an issue of growing concern in developed countries, and it is often only detected clinically after extensive tooth wear has occurred," says Dr Sarbin Ranjitkar, corresponding author of a paper on tooth enamel erosion published in the Journal of Dentistry.
"If high acidity drinks are consumed, it is not simply a matter of having a child clean their teeth an hour or 30 minutes later and hoping they'll be okay - the damage is already done," he says.
Dr Ranjitkar suggests children consume fresh fruit instead of drinking fruit juice. "Although fresh fruit is naturally acidic, it is a healthier option to fruit juice, which can have additional food acids in it.