Tooth decay used to our biggest health problem but now there's a new assault on our teeth -- acid wear.

Our teeth are one of our most important assets, so it pays to look after them. But an exclusive dental study provided to Today Tonight reveals most of us aren't aware the silent destroyer of our teeth is actually a healthy lifestyle.

"Eating lots of vegetables and fruit, taking a vitamin supplement like vitamin C, exercising a few times a week -- all of those things would be conducive to good general health. The problem is a lot of the healthy things we eat are very high in acid", said Dr. Ron Georgiou.

According to Dr. Georgiou, most people aren't aware their teeth are eroding away until it's too late.

27 year old Katherine Ann lives a healthy lifestyle -- cycling to work each morning and watching the types of foods she eats -- she had no idea it was her diet that was ruining her teeth. "The acid erosion has caused me to pay around $4,000 for treatment", Katherine said.

Dentists believe it's our love of sports drinks that's the problem and it's teenagers between 16 and 19 who have the highest cases of acid wear. Exercise leads to dehydration, leaving teeth vulnerable -- bathing the mouth in acidic sports drinks literally eats away the enamel.

Earlier this year, the Australian Dental Association's Dr Mark Bowman called for warning labels to be placed on some drinks.

Worth $100 million, the bottled water market are full of additives -- artificial colours, caffeine and sugar -- their acid content is as high as orange juice.

Nutritionist Catherine Saxelby says, "People think it's actually healthy for them and better than soft drink, but really it's not it's on a par with soft drink".

And some alcohol is just as bad. Wine tasters are sacrificing their teeth for their careers. "You run the wine through your mouth and teeth to aerate the wine and that was causing a huge amount of wear", said Jon Osbeiston, who runs the Ultimo Wine Centre in Sydney.

Foods you thought were harmless can cause major damage -- fruit salad, strawberry jam, honey, even rhubarb, all have high acid contents.

"Peaches and plums are quite high in acid; a lot of vegetables as well, but fruit juices are also. People think because they are naturally squeezed there's not too much sugar and acid there, but in fact there's a lot of both", said Dr. Georgiou.

Bananas and beer are less acidic and kinder for your teeth -- but less so on the waistline - are eggs and bacon, cereal, toast with peanut butter and chocolate cake have no acid.

So, to save your teeth, there are some steps that will help:

* Avoid acidic food and drinks in the evening

* Drink lots of water

* Drink acidic drinks through a straw

* Wait for one hour before brushing teeth

* Brush teeth gently

* Avoid acidic food and drinks in the evening when saliva flow is lowest

* Drink plenty of water to keep saliva levels up

* Drink acidic drinks through a straw

* Wait for an hour before brushing teeth -- brushing straight after a meal will

cause more damage

* Brush teeth gently twice a day

"You might want to use a high content fluoride toothpaste and there's many good brands on the market. Make sure you drink plenty of water through the day and use plenty of sugar free chewing gums to help stimulate saliva flow", Dr. Georgiou said.

You can stabilise things, but you can't put back what's gone.

For further information visit the website at: www.acidwear.com.au