To investigate the change in the prevalence of dental erosion, over time, by a review of the data from the published national dental surveys of young people in the UK. A subsidiary objective was to investigate the relationship between erosion and possible associated risk factors. The review was based on cross-sectional prevalence studies incorporating a clinical dental examination and structured interviews. The data were collated from the 1993 UK childrens' dental health survey and the dental report of the two National Diet and Nutrition Surveys (NDNS) of children aged 1(1/2)-4(1/2) in 1992/3 and 4-18 years in 1996/7. The criteria used for data collection were comparable between the three different studies. Comparing the data from the different studies, the prevalence of erosion was seen to increase from the time of the childrens' dental health survey in 1993 and the NDNS study of 4-18-year-olds in 1996/7. There was a trend towards a higher prevalence of erosion in children aged between 3(1/2) and 4(1/2) and in those who consumed carbonated drinks on most days compared with toddlers consuming these drinks less often. Drinks overnight were associated with an increased prevalence of erosion. More 4-6-year-olds with reported symptoms of gastro-oesophageal reflux had erosion compared with symptom-free children. On multivariate analysis, the strongest independent association with erosion was geography, with children living in the North having twice the odds of having erosion compared with those in London and the South-east. Comparing prevalence data from cross-sectional national studies indicates that dental erosion increases between different age cohorts of young people over time. Dietary associations with erosion are present but weak. Similarly, there is an association apparent between erosion, symptoms of gastro-oesophageal reflux and socio-demographic variables such as region of domicile, social class, and receipt of social benefits.