A scalloped tongue is when your tongue has half-circle indentations around the edge. Scalloped tongue causes are usually when your tongue presses up against your teeth, either constantly or regularly, pressing the shape of your teeth into the sides of the tongue. It may also look like a rippled tongue.

There are many potential scalloped tongue causes and all should be checked out to eliminate the most serious possibilities.

What Causes a Scalloped Tongue?

Swelling of the tongue could be the reason why your tongue is pushing up against your teeth. If this is the case, it may be due to a number of different systemic conditions. Hypothyroidism is the most common cause of a swollen tongue, but there are others. Hypothyroidism condition is when your thyroid is not producing enough of its vital hormone, which controls how your body uses and stores energy. Hypothyroidism can lead to obesity, heart disease, and other serious health consequences.

Nutrient deficiencies may have links to a swollen tongue. In Chinese medicine, a swollen tongue is related to a spleen deficiency.

Scalloped Tongue Causes and Your Teeth

A scalloped tongue doesn’t have to be swollen to press against your teeth regularly. Instead, your tongue may be pressing against your teeth because your lower arch is too narrow. Your tongue might not have enough room. In some cases, it’s possible to remodel the lower jaw to increase the room for your tongue, especially if the problem is detected at a young age.

But what if there’s plenty of room for your tongue, and it’s still scalloped? In this case, it’s likely that your tongue is deliberately pressing up against your teeth on a regular basis. This may be because your bite isn’t coming together properly to stabilize your jaw for swallowing. To attempt to make up for this, your tongue pushes up against your teeth to help stabilize them. This repeated motion causes the tongue to acquire a scalloped shape. It can also lead to drifting of the teeth, causing the bite to become even less stable.

A bite that isn’t stable for swallowing is probably not stable for all the other muscular tasks your jaw muscles perform, such as chewing or assisting balance of the head. Even if you don’t have it yet, this could contribute to the development of TMJ, including jaw pain, headaches, and other symptoms.

Scalloped Tongue Treatment

The treatment for a scalloped tongue is usually determined based on what’s causing it. By treating the cause of the rippled tongue, you can treat the rippled tongue. Some common scalloped tongue treatments include:

  • Nasal dilators
  • CPAP machine
  • Surgery to correct the tongue shape or size
  • Surgery to remove abnormal or excess tissue or cells
  • Thyroid hormone medications
  • Dental devices such as mouth guards
  • Anti-inflammatory medications

A scalloped tongue is an important symptom that you should talk to your doctor about. If your doctor clears your health, it’s time to see a neuromuscular dentist. To schedule an appointment with a Columbia, SC neuromuscular dentist, please call (803) 781-9090 for an appointment at Smile Columbia Dentistry.