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Dental examinations were carried out on 354 boys aged 5–6 years, and 862 boys aged 12–14 years, attending 40 schools in Riyadh. The prevalence of dental erosion was assessed using diagnostic criteria similar to those employed in the 1993 UK National Survey of Child Dental Health.Pronounced dental erosion (into dentine or dentine and pulp) was observed in 34% of 5–6 year olds and 26% of 12–14 year olds. Information on food and drink consumed and dietary habits was obtained by means of a questionnaire. Parents reported that 65% of 5–6 year old boys took a drink to bed. Water was the commonest drink consumed (37%) followed by carbonated soft drinks (21%). One third of parents reported that their son had something to eat in bed or during the night and 60% of this was sweet food or confectionery. Seventy per cent of 12–14 year old boys reported consuming drinks at night; these were mainly water (30%), carbonated soft drinks (27%) and tea or coffee, with sugar (18%). Forty-six per cent of the 12–14 year olds reported that they ate in bed at least once a week and 54% of this was sweet food or confectionery. When the dental examination and questionnaire results were correlated, a statistically significant relationship was found between the number of primary maxillary incisors with pronounced erosion of their palatal surfaces and the consumption of carbonated soft drinks at night (P=0.015). A significant relationship was also found between the number of permanent maxillary incisors with pronounced erosion on their palatal surfaces and the frequency of drinks at night (P=0.020), as well as the duration of drinks retained in the mouth (P=0.038).It is concluded that dental erosion is more common in the primary and permanent dentitions of Saudi Arabian boys compared with results for similar age groups from the United Kingdom.