Can your child's favorite drink harm her teeth? According to a new study, drinks with a high acid content — such as sodas, sports drinks and certain juices — can cause permanent damage.

The study, which was recently published in the Journal of Dentistry, took a look at the amount of damage certain drinks caused to a child's teeth. The researchers, led by a team of scientists from Australia's University of Adelaide, are warning parents that the damage caused by acidic drinks happens almost instantly and can't be brushed away in an hour or two.

"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," said Dr. Sarbin Ranjitkar, a lead author of the study, in a news release.

Most strikingly, the study found that lifelong damage to a child's teeth occurs within the first 30 seconds of exposure to acid — whether it's from soda, sports drinks, juices or acidic foods.  

"The important thing to appreciate is that there is a balance between acids and host protection in a healthy mouth. Once that balance is shifted in favor of the acids, regardless of the type of acid, teeth become damaged," he says.

He also noted that the number of cases of tooth erosion from the consumption of acidic beverages is on the rise in children and young adults. 

Of particular concern is how this tooth erosion might compound other dental issues — such as nighttime grinding or acid reflux — that afflict many kids. Researchers fear that the combination could lead to "a lifetime of compromised dental health that may require complex and extensive rehabilitation."

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