Tooth erosion: Fruit teas and even just hot water with lemon could raise YOUR risk

Salt and vinegar crisps are also among problem foods which contain high levels of acid that can wear away teeth, a team from King's College London discovered.

Their investigation, published in the British Dental Journal, also found it is not just what you eat, but how and when you eat it, that contributes to the risk of developing the condition.

Tooth erosion is not the same as tooth decay.

Erosion affects the whole tooth surface whereas decay is when a cavity is formed.

Erosion, which affects more than 30 per cent of adults in Europe, is ranked as the third most important dental condition, after cavities and gum disease.

While their data review found that increased consumption between meals was the biggest risk factor, it noted: “However, habitually drinking acidic drinks by sipping them slowly or swishing, rinsing or holding acidic drinks in the mouth prior to swallowing will also increase risk of progression”.

The study also found sugar-free soft drinks are as erosive as sugar-sweetened ones, and sweets or lozenges have large erosive potential when consumed regularly.

The researchers have suggested the increase in patients with tooth erosion may be linked to changing patterns of eating, such as increased snacking in both children and adults. 

Lead author Dr Saoirse O'Toole said: “It is well known that an acidic diet is associated with erosive tooth wear, however our study has shown the impact of the way in which acidic food and drinks are consumed. 

“With the prevalence of erosive tooth wear increasing, it is vitally important that we address this preventable aspect of erosive tooth wear. 

“Reducing dietary acid intake can be key to delaying progression of tooth erosion. 

“While behaviour change can be difficult to achieve, specific, targeted behavioural interventions may prove successful.“

Drinking certain acids like cider vinegar has been promoted recently as a weight loss method.

Among the fruit teas, those with high levels of acid included ginger and lemon, berry and rosehip flavours.

The researchers found that the rate of erosion was halved when drinks were consumed with meals.