Scalloped Tongue: Find the Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

We all have the same facial features; a pair of eyes, one nose, two ears, etc. But have you ever given a thought to your oral anatomy? The inside of our mouth might look similar, but apparently, it is not. We have this obvious information that every human has a different set and shape of teeth; however, you can never fathom that people have a tongue that might not appear like any regular one. That’s right! Not everyone has a regular shaped tongue with perfect round edges; some individuals have a Scalloped Tongue.

Is it difficult to imagine precisely what an unconventional tongue would look like? It might be challenging to believe, but perfectly normal human beings have a tongue that appears very irregular in shape. But it isn’t a new condition. People have been diagnosed with this irregularity for ages, and there are specific reasons to believe that. 

A visit to your dentist is not only about your teeth;  but also about overall oral hygiene and what it can reflect about any internal health conditions. Pro Teeth Guard mentions a fact identified by the American Dental Association saying,

Our mouth is a window to look through and spot signs of any nutritional deficiencies, systemic diseases, and even genetic disorders.

A scalloped tongue might be a genetic disorder, or it might be an indication of something serious inside our bodies. Let’s look into more detail to understand whether an irregular tongue is just a harmless natural shape of your tongue, or is it more about unraveling a grave health condition?

What is a Scalloped Tongue?

scalloped tongue


A scalloped tongue is a condition where a person’s tongue appears rippled and indented from the edges. It seems wavier in appearance compared to a regular tongue which is perfectly round and adequately edged. Scalloped is just another vocabulary given to the condition besides others such as crenated tongue, lingua indenta, rippled tongue, etc. 

The most common reason for people with the scalloped tongue is the formation of the lower jaw being too low where the tongue’s tissue is pressing against the teeth, making it indented from one side or both sides. This abnormality is often considered a genetic disorder since one cannot feel any pain associated with it. However, it would be wrong to assume that there can never be any specific cause of why a tongue would look so indented from the sides. 

What Are Some Causes & Symptoms of Scalloped Tongue?

scalloped tongue


Scalloped Tongue causes might have two sides: incurable due to genetic/natural appearance and the other where it gradually escalates due to an underlying condition over time. As mentioned above in the article, this enlarged tongue presses against the teeth, which eventually leads to the indentation on the sides/edge of the tongue, termed as Scalloped Tongue.

Now, there is a reason why the tongue suddenly becomes enlarged due to inflammation. Initially, as a consequence of a disease slowly progressing to become something severe or fatal. Amongst other signs and symptoms, Macroglossia or enlargement of the tongue takes place. Now, it is crucial to be familiar with some conditions or causes that might result in Macroglossia

Bad Habit Due to Anxiety

scalloped tongue causes


Bad Habits, or as Medical News Today terms it, Parafunctional Activities are the foremost reason why indentation on the edges of the tongue might appear. Many people have a consistent pattern of bad habits in their regular life. They might not be aware of it because, in adults, it is a consequence of stress. So, we could say it as Scalloped Tongue Anxiety.

As a consequence of experiencing anxiety or stress, an individual could grind their teeth leading to Bruxism. They won’t be consistent to press their tongue when they are utterly anxious or restless about something. As an aftermath of stress, these habits could also lead to an improper alignment of the teeth resulting in a constant push to the tongue, making it look wavier. 

Sleep Apnea

scalloped tongue causes


You might feel how sleep disorder has anything to do with a Scalloped tongue. It is essential to know that our everyday life practices have a vital role in how our health appears, especially our inner body well-being. Hence, sleep disorders are one of several causes of Macroglossia. 

As explained above, under the category of bad habits, some people find it difficult to sleep or have an improper sleeping routine during the night. As a result, they would constantly grind their teeth resulting in scalloped edges on tongue.

A person might not be aware of this since it is an unconscious activity observed in many people. Sleep disorders might cause other health conditions, and the feeling of stress and tiredness is one of them.

TMD or Temporomandibular Joint Condition

scalloped tongue causes


Many people are unaware of the TMD condition but are more common than anyone realizes. TMD or Temporomandibular is a muscle connecting the jaw with the skull and helps our mouth to perform functions like talking, chewing, smiling, singing, etc.

A TMD condition is capable of causing misalignment of the jaw due to any injury, trauma, or consistent teeth grinding. It ultimately leads to the development of TMJ headache, the most common outcome. However, this misaligned jaw also causes a Scalloped Tongue because the tongue tries to push through the lower jaw to make space inside the mouth. 

Nutritional Deficiency or Allergic Reaction

scalloped tongue causes


Our body requires vitamins in a particular proportion. The food we need has these vitamins such as Vitamin B-12, Niacin. Iron, riboflavin, etc. Suppose any of these vitamins are scarce inside the body; in that case, it leads to scalloped tongues on edges.

Sometimes, people have also asked questions like, ‘Why is my Tongue White’? Doctors and medical experts have mentioned that sometimes malfunction of our immune system causes allergens, and the end result is evident through the swelling on the tongue or its discoloration. So when the swelled-up tongue presses against the teeth, it causes a Scalloped tongue.

Chronic Inflammatory Condition

There are plenty of diseases that are chronic and are not possible enough to be cured. Hence, these are known as infiltrative diseases causing chronic inflammation. They would gradually cause the building up of tissues that are not normal and is only the result of a person suffering from a chronic condition. Hence, it results in a Scalloped Tongue.

Doctors say chronic inflammation is a genetic condition in most cases, passed down to an individual through their parents or from anyone in the family. These chronic inflammatory conditions include; Down Syndrome, hypothyroidism, amyloidosis, multiple myeloma, neurofibromatosis, etc. 

Smoking & Dehydration

scalloped tongue causes


People who are chain smokers have a dehydrated bodies. As an immune response, too much smoking affects the mucosal tissues in a swelled tongue. The enlarged tongue tries to accommodate itself inside the mouth, pushing itself against the teeth. Hence, a formation of the scalloped tongue on the edges.

Additional Symptoms Other Than the Noticeable Indented Edges of the Tongue

Scalloped tongue in itself is a symptom of several diseases affecting the workings of an individual’s body. When the condition is genetic, there would be a specified symptom, and other than a rippled edge of the tongue, there would not be any pain or irritation. But if you notice something like:

  • A sore throat
  • Tenderness and soreness around the edges, which is indented
  • Mild to severe redness causing pain if the condition worsens

How to Get Rid of Scalloped Tongue?

scalloped tongue


All the causes mentioned above are some reasons why anyone would develop a scalloped tongue on the edges. It is irregular anatomy of the mouth and could be cured if you make a reasonable and timely visitation to either a dentist or any other doctor if you are experiencing other health issues along with a swelled-up tongue. 

You need to understand that not every person would experience a different condition if suffering from a scalloped tongue. It might be a genetic thing. But if it is stress-related, it is best to consult with a psychologist. In case of a vitamin deficiency, the doctor would recommend you with specific medication and supplements to reduce the scarcity of nutrition in the body.

A diagnosis from your doctor would include getting a blood sample, a CT scan, or even an MRI to rule out any infection or check for a specific medical history. A proper diagnosis of the disease would enable a doctor to prescribe a particular treatment or opting a lifestyle that involves less stress. 

Curing Inflammatory Condition

Any chronic inflammatory condition would require prolonged treatment and following your doctor’s order. It would require you to avoid any lifestyle practices that specifically trigger inflammation. Keep it simple and follow a routine check-up with your doctor. 

Also Read: Find All The Reasons Behind Sugar Headache

Curing the TMJ Condition

Most of the time, people have a poor sleep routine and have a strenuous work life. They suffer from sleeping disorders or TMJ conditions since they cannot correctly balance their professional life with a personal care routine.

In case of a TMJ condition where it has led to a misaligned jaw, a mouthguard would be a suitable option. People who grind their teeth would benefit from the guard constricting them to bite the tongue and causing any more infection or scalloped tongue on edges.

Any Self-Medicating Options

Apart from your doctor’s help, you can try improving your lifestyle, such as quitting smoking not immediately but gradually with time. If the misaligned mouth hurts too much, you can always use a warm compress to relieve your tongue and the overall mouth. Drink plenty of water and visit your dentist for appropriate monthly or quarterly oral health. 

All of these practices would ultimately contribute to improving your scalloped tongue.

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