AUSTRALIANS are swilling a staggering 100 litres of soft drink a head each year – prompting calls for the fizz to be banned from home fridges.
Dentists say children as young as six are having rotten baby teeth pulled out after substituting water with sugary and highly acidic soft drinks.
Adult addicts downing as much as six bottles or cans a day are being left with mouths full of fillings and root canal work.
Soft-drink consumption has bubbled from an average 65 litres in the early 1970s to about 100 litres today, Australian Bureau of Statistics and Australian Beverage Council figures show.
That equates to 267 standard cans a year.
Dr Harleen Kumar, of Smile Solutions in Melbourne, said some young patients had up to four glasses daily.
The problem tended to be worse with teenagers.
“In my opinion, soft drink should be for special occasions only such as birthdays and going out. I say to adults to ban it from the fridge,” she said.
“I treated one child who was decay-free and then started drinking a can of soft drink a day. He came back a year later with 20 cavities.”
The industry says consumption is slowing after peaking in the 1990s.
Nutritionist Dr Rosemary Stanton said sugar-sweetened drinks pumped in calories without giving people a feeling of fullness.
Draft national dietary guidelines advised limiting added-sugar drinks, she said.
Australian Beverage Council chief executive officer Geoff Parker said soft drinks had been unfairly “demonised” in the obesity debate.
One in three soft drinks sold were diet versions with artificial sweeteners and no calories.
Dr Stanton said artificial sweeteners still eroded tooth enamel and maintained a sweet taste habit.