What Is Your Spit Made Of?

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And now, it’s time for Who Smarted?

Narrator: Psst Hey, Smarty Pants, see if you can guess where I am. Need another hint? How about this? Any ideas? Here’s one more hint. If you guess that I’m in someone’s mouth, you’re right.

Also, this is kind of gross. But don’t worry. It’s not just any mouth, it’s my dental hygienist’s mouth, and he has excellent oral hygiene. [Burp] most of the time. Fish tacos for dinner again, huh? Anyway, Smarty Pants, this isn’t really about my hygienist, it’s about something found in his mouth, well, anyone’s mouth, everyone’s mouth. Today’s episode is all about Spit. [Grrr]

Have you ever been to the dentist? And after poking around in your mouth, they’ll tell you to “Go ahead and rinse.” But when they say “Rinse,” what they really mean is they want you to spit.

And if you’ve ever watched professional sports, I’m sure you’ve seen your favorite athletes spitting all over the place. Again, pretty gross, but also, there seems to be a reason for it. If only someone could explain.

Amy: Hello, here we are.

Linus: Did someone say spit?

Narrator: Ah, who are you?

Linus: Allow me to introduce…

Amy: Me, I’m Amylase, but all my friends call me Amy. And this is my brother.

Linus: Lipase! But all my friends call me Linus.

Narrator: Okk-ay. Amylase a.k.a. Amy and Lipase a.k.a. Linus.

Linus: At your service.

Narrator: And, why are you two here?

Amy: As in, why are we talking to you now?

Linus: Or why are we turned and spit.

Narrator: Wait, you two are in spit?

Linus: That’s right. When you see spit, you’ll see our spitting images.

Amy: Although I must insist you call it saliva and not spit. That is the proper name, after all.

Linus: And we’re nothing if not proper.

Amy: At least I am.

Linus: Hey, what’s that supposed to mean?

Amy: It means I’ve got more class than you.

Linus: Are you kidding? I’ve got gobs of class.

Narrator: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Amy, Linus, please, don’t get into a spat. Get it? You’re spit, getting into a spat.

Amy: Mm-hmm. What did I just tell you?

Narrator: Sorry, I meant saliva.

Amy: I forgive this time.

Linus: Careful, narrator. This one can spit nails when she’s angry.

Narrator: Well, that’s just it. Why do people spit anything? Why do humans make saliva? What does saliva do? And what’s in saliva? Besides you two. Today we’re spitting out facts and a big whiff of science on…

Who Smarted? Who Smarted? Who Smarted? Who Smart? Is it you? Is it me? Is it science? Or history? Listen up, everyone, we make smarting lots of fun, on Who Smarted?

Narrator: Hey, you two. Is there any chance that gross, wet sound is ever going to stop?

Linus: Unlikely. That’s the sound of saliva being produced. And it happens all day long.

Amy: Your mouth is a very busy place.

Narrator: Well, at least I can fade the background noise down. There. Now, the first thing I need to know is, who are you?

Amy: We told you.

Linus: She’s Amy Amylase, and I’m Linus Lipase.

Narrator: No, no, I got that. But who are you two?

Amy: Oh, I see. We’re enzymes. And enzymes are the building blocks of saliva.

Linus: Well, to be fair, saliva is 99% water. But the other 1% is very important.

Narrator: Oh, yes? How important? And what exactly is an enzyme? Do you know, Smarty Pants?

Amy: Enzymes are proteins that speed up chemical reactions in your body.

Narrator: Got you. So, what particular chemical reactions do you two speed up?

Linus: Great question. If you don’t mind us answering in the third person, Lipase breaks down fats in the food you eat.

Amy: And Amylase breaks down starches into sugars.

Linus: And we’re both produced in the…

Narrator: Wait, don’t say it. Let’s see if the Smarty Pants can figure it out. Where are amylase and lipase produced in your body? Is it

A-The barbecue spit.

B-The sputum maker.

Or C-The salivary glands? The answer is…

Amy: The salivary glands.

Narrator: Good job if you got that, Smarty Pants. And like Linus said earlier, your mouth is busy producing saliva all day long.

Linus: Yep. It’s like a saliva factory that never closes.

Amy: Even on weekends, holidays, or while you’re sleeping.

Narrator: Smarty Pants, just how much saliva do you think the average human produces on an average day? Is it A, Just under half a liter. B-Between half a liter and one and a half liters. Or C, Over one and a half liters, which equals around seven cups?

Linus: If you guessed B-Between half a liter and 1.5 liters, or between two and six cups, you’re right.

Narrator: Yikes. That’s a lot of spit. I mean saliva. That’s like a medium-sized soda bottle.

Linus: Oh, yes. Today’s episode is brought to you by Haka-Cola. It’s clear, slimy, but not fizzy. Grab yourself a Haka-Cola today.

Narrator: Okay. First of all, that is so gross just thinking about it. Secondly, Haka-Cola is definitely not a sponsor of Who Smarted.

That being said, I can’t believe we produce that much saliva every day.

Amy: And night. Of course you produce way less saliva when you’re sleeping.

Narrator: Oh? Why do you think that is, Smarty Pants?

Amy: It’s because your body doesn’t need saliva when you’re sleeping.

Narrator: Huh, I guess that’s why I drool on my pillow sometimes. Is there any time when your body increases the flow of saliva?

Amy: Oh, yes.

Narrator: Smarty Pants, any guess what that is? Is it

A-When you’re eating.

B-When you’re playing baseball.

Or C-when you’ve got a big math test? The answer is…

Amy: A-When you’re eating.

Narrator: Good job if you got that, Smarty Pants.  And really, that leads into one of my biggest questions. Why do humans produce saliva in the first place?

Linus: Have you ever heard the phrase, “Digestion begins in the mouth”?

Narrator: Um, maybe?

Amy: Have you ever heard food described as “Mouth-watering?”

Narrator: Yes, that I’ve definitely heard of. In fact, I even describe some of the delicious Hello Fresh meals I make at home as mouth-watering. [Clears throat] As you were saying.

Linus: lot of what saliva exists for has to do with digestion. Remember how we said enzymes in saliva help break down food? Well, saliva also helps moisten the food in your mouth, making it easier to chew and swallow. Just think how hard it would be to swallow a hamburger, or a handful of Cheetos, or a PBJ sandwich if you had no saliva to make it wet.

Narrator: Oh, I think that would be hard.

Linus: Dry mouth got you down? Reach for a cool, crisp bottle of Haka-Cola and… Dude!

Amy: See, this is what I mean when I say I’m the proper one. What isn’t a joke is the important role saliva plays in digestion. In fact, when the food you’re chewing is mixed with saliva and becomes the wet mound of mush you swallow, it actually has its very own name.

Narrator: Oh, Smarty Pants, what do you think that mound of chewed food is called? Is it an A, Borpheus. B, Borat. Or C, Bolus? The answer is coming up right after this quick break. And a word from our sponsor, which definitely is not Haka-Cola.



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Now back to Who Smarted?

Narrator: Okay, Smarty Pants. You’re eating a slice of pizza, and the cheese, the sauce, and the crust, have become a mound of chewed food in your mouth. Is it called an A. Borpheus. B, Borat. Or C, Bolus? The answer is…

Amy: C, Bolus. And please be sure to always chew your food properly.

Linus: The better the bolus in your mouth, the better the end result in your toilet bolus later. If you know what I mean.

Narrator: Unfortunately, I do, Linus. Speaking of, what else does saliva do?

Amy: Saliva helps clean your teeth and mouth by getting bits of food out of all the little nooks and crannies. It also washes away sugars and bacteria that sits on your teeth and gums.

Linus: Without saliva, your pearly whites wouldn’t be very white or pearly.

Narrator: So, if saliva cleans my mouth and teeth, are you saying that, oh, I don’t have to brush my teeth anymore? Was it all just a lie told to us by Big Dental just to sell toothpaste?

Amy: Oh gosh, no!

Linus: We are definitely not saying that. You still have to brush your teeth, Trusty.

Amy: And floss every day. Twice, if possible. Sorry.

Narrator: Oh, good, because I kind of enjoy brushing my teeth. [Brushing teeth] Ah, minty.

Anyway, I was wondering, say, what’s that sound and what’s all that stuff?

Amy: Looks like your hygienist is enjoying some more fish tacos.

Linus: Take cover, trusty. We’ll break down this battered halibut in no time.

Amy: Here comes the bolus.

Linus: And there it goes. You’re good, trusty. The coast is clear.

Narrator: Phew, that was close. I thought I was going to be part of that bolus.

Linus: Stick with us, kid, and you’ll be fine. Man, those tacos were zesty. Which brings up yet another role saliva plays in your mouth.

Narrator: Any idea what it is, Smarty Pants? Is it A, Taco detection. B, Taste. Or C, Gag reflex? The answer is…

Amy: B, Taste.

Narrator: Uh, I thought taste buds were responsible for that.

Amy: Taste buds, which are found on the tongue, are indeed what gave you your sense of taste. But if your tongue were dry, you wouldn’t be able to taste very well. Saliva helps carry important chemicals to your tongue and aids your taste buds in doing their job. [Ah!]

Narrator: Got it. Speaking of important, way back when we first met, you said saliva is about 99% water, and 1% something else, and that that other 1% was very important.

Amy: Good memory, Trusty. I did say that.

Narrator: So what is that 1%?

Amy: Well, that 1% not only contains amylase and lipase…

Linus: Aka, us.

Amy: But also mucus, electrolytes, and white blood cells and epithelial cells.

Narrator: Epi-who now?

Amy: Epithelial cells cover certain surfaces of your body. In the case of your mouth, they’re found on the insides of your cheek, which, along with white blood cells, end up in saliva. And that’s how your DNA can be found in saliva.

Narrator: Wow, there’s so much more to saliva than I ever imagined. And here, I thought it was just spit.

Oh, and speaking of spitting, why do so many people, you know, spit all the time?

Linus: I got this one. I am the proper one, after all.

Amy: Mm-hmm.

Narrator: In many parts of the world, spitting is considered offensive, gross, and just plain rude. The funny thing is, it used to be way more common. It wasn’t until the 1700s in Europe that spitting became a no-no and was actually written about in etiquette books.

Then in the 1800s, something called a spittoon became quite fashionable.

Narrator: Smarty Pants, have you ever heard of a spittoon?

Linus: It’s basically a pot or jug, either metal or ceramic, and the whole point is to spit into it. Spittoons encouraged people from just spitting in the street. But spittoons are pretty gross, too, and who wants to clean them? Eventually, they were phased out.

Amy: Spitting is definitely not something we encourage, but it is true that your mouth can produce more saliva than is necessary, especially in moments of stress or stimulating activities, which might be why you see so many athletes spitting during games.

Narrator: Or when my hygienist smells fish tacos. “Looks like he’s going in for more! Run!”



A triple shout-out to Harper, Grace, and Ira in Conway, Arkansas, we’re so glad you have fun smarting along to Who Smarted? And learning new things; thank you for being part of our Smarty family.

This episode, “Spit,” was written by Phil Jeremy and voiced by Laura Rondinella, Connor Quinn, Max Kamaski, and Jerry Kolber. Technical direction and sound design by Josh Hahn.

Who Smarted? is recorded and mixed at the Relic Room Studios. Our associate producer is Max Kamaski. The theme song is by Brian Suarez, with lyrics written and performed by Adam Tex-Davis.

Who Smarted? was created and produced by Adam Tex-Davis and Jerry Kolber. This has been an Atomic Entertainment production.