Sodas may be largely devoid of protein, vitamins and other nutritious ingredients, but you can't blame them for dental cavities in teens and young adults, a new study says. Rich Forshee and Maureen Storey, research faculty at the Center for Food and Nutrition Policy at the Virginia Institute of Technology, announced the finding Monday at the annual meeting of the American College of Nutrition. After reviewing data collected during the federal National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III, the Virginia Tech team found no association between soft drink consumption and cavities among adolescents, young adults or older adults. Instead, they found a link between sodas and cavities in adults between 25 and 40 years old.

The researchers uncovered several other age-related trends: within the 17-to-40 age group, cavities were slightly more prevalent among those survey respondents with less education and lower income levels than the rest. Among those over 40, Caucasians had more cavities than African Americans, Mexican Americans and other races. Mexican Americans also had fewer cavities than Caucasians in the 25-to-40 age group. And in general, women had four to five more cavities than men. "Our study shows that age is related to dental cavities," Forshee says. "The older we get, the more problems we are likely to encounter."