Spit Power

Saliva provides clues about diseases, dental cavities, and who might have been at a crime scene.

By Emily Sohn, 00:00 AM January 23, 2006

Mahvash Navazesh has dedicated 25 years of her life to the study of spit.

"My nickname is 'Spit Queen,'" says Navazesh, who teaches at the University of Southern California School of Dentistry in Los Angeles. She can joke about her work, but she also wants you to know that spit, or saliva, is much more than the slimy stuff that you might use to wet a spitball.

"Most people take saliva for granted," she says. "It's one of the least-respected body fluids."

Saliva protects your teeth and helps you digest food.

Saliva protects your teeth and he...

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