Scalloped Tongue: Causes, Treatment, and Diagnosis

Scalloped Tongue Causes & Treatment

A scalloped tongue is an anomaly where the sides of the tongue are not smooth, which is usually not bad. These ridges on either side of the tongue can affect people of any age and are known by names such as wavy tongue, crenate tongue, or pie crust tongue.

Generally, this condition is not painful, meaning any discomfort or pain may be caused by an underlying condition causing the tongue's ridges. Below is more information about the scalloped tongue, its causes, and treatment.

What is scalloped tongue?

The notches on the sides of the tongue, which appear next to the adjacent teeth, are called tongue scalloping. That is, it is the name given to the wavy edges that appear on the sides of the tongue.

Although not a cause for concern, it can be a sign that something is going on that you should treat before affecting your dental health and dental polish. People with this tongue abnormality are more likely to bite their tongues when eating accidentally.

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What causes scalloped tongue?

In general, the cause of the scalloped tongue is due to inflammation or swelling of the tongue. Swelling on the tongue, also called macroglossia, occurs when the tongue presses against the edges of the teeth, which develops wavy ridges on the tongue.

Other causes of the scalloped tongue are:


Lack of water can cause swelling in the body, so lack of hydration can be one of the causes of tongue ridges.


High stress and anxiety levels, including a wavy tongue, can be expressed differently in the body. Anxiety can cause a person to clench their jaw or grind their teeth. Having these habits in your mouth for a long time will lead to ripples on your tongue.

Sleep disorders

Bruxism, sleep apnea, clenching, and grinding of the teeth can be the cause of the appearance of this anomaly in the tongue. Sleep apnea can cause a person to press their tongue against their teeth, which can cause a wavy or scalloped tongue.

Disorders of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)

Temporomandibular joint disorders can cause wavy or scalloped tongues. The joint that connects the jaw to the skull can get stuck or become fixed in a painful position, which can put pressure on the tongue and form scalloped indentations on the sides of the tongue.

Nutritional deficiencies

A lack of some vitamins can also cause a scalloped tongue. When the body does not receive the necessary amount of vitamins, such as vitamin B12, niacin, iron, and riboflavin, it can lead to the appearance of ridges on the sides of the tongue.


Protein buildup in major organs can be a cause of a wavy tongue. These accumulated proteins can also accumulate on the tongue, which will cause swelling of the tongue.


Smoking can increase inflammation and cause dehydration and irritation of tissues, such as the tongue. All of these factors can develop a scalloped tongue.

Allergic reaction, injury, or infection

An allergic reaction or infection is also a potentially dangerous cause of tongue ridges. With a severe allergy, the tongue can swell completely and block the airway, which can be dangerous.

Other causes

Other causes of clam tongue: hypothyroidism, down syndrome, genetic conditions, and Apert syndrome. Some types of cancer can also cause wavy or scalloped tongues. It is important to note that these conditions have unique symptoms, but tongue swelling is a common symptom that can lead to tongue ridges.

What does a scalloped tongue mean?

A tongue with wavy ridges or notches on its sides is called a scalloped tongue. An anomaly is caused by the tongue's pressure against the teeth, probably produced by a bad bite.

Some causes are easy to treat, with certain treatments ranging from vitamin supplements to surgery. Everything will depend on the situation of each patient.

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How to Get Rid of Scalloped Tongue

If you have noticed teeth marks on tongue, a wavy or scalloped tongue may occur over time. It would help if you had a proper evaluation to get an effective treatment depending on your case.

Diagnosing the cause of a wavy or scalloped tongue will help you resolve the problem and may reduce complications. Visit a local doctor or dentist for a general evaluation, where you will discuss your health, recent symptoms, and changes in your body.

Your doctor can diagnose you appropriately depending on your medical history and symptoms. In addition, you can request a series of studies and tests such as a complete physical examination, blood tests, biopsy, magnetic resonance, etc.

When the doctor has all the results in hand, he will be able to make a diagnosis, and from there, he will be able to determine the indicated scalloped tongue treatment. Some of the treatments available are:

Prescription anti-inflammatory drugs

Anti-inflammatory medications are used for most causes of tongue ridges, as they help reduce swelling.

Mouth guards

Patients suffering from bruxism or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders that cause scalloped tongue can wear a mouthguard. Mouthguards will help keep your jaw in place and prevent you from clenching or grinding your teeth.

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Other medicines

Thyroid medications and immunosuppressants can help you regulate swelling in the body, including the tongue. These drugs should be taken when diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder or hyperthyroidism.

How to fix a scalloped tongue?

If you have a scalloped tongue, you can use any of these home remedies:

• Drink plenty of water

• Brush and floss regularly

• Eat a healthy and balanced diet

•Stop smoking

• Avoid triggering allergens

• Do exercises to avoid a sedentary lifestyle and have good health in general.

• You can take over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories

• Reduce stress and anxiety

When the ridges on the tongue are very large, and it is the consequence of genetic conditions, one of the treatments will be surgery to reduce the size of the tongue. Also, orthodontics and dental procedures can help you have more room in your mouth so your tongue can fit better.

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As you can see, scalloped tongue is not a serious condition, but it is important to know its cause. You must visit the dentist regularly so that your mouth can be evaluated and a proper diagnosis can be obtained.

When your dentist does a detailed evaluation of your mouth, he can determine some possible health conditions that must be treated early to avoid further complications. Many dentists call this condition tongue crenation and use different treatments to fix it.

 FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. How does the thyroid cause scalloped tongue?

Untreated hypothyroidism and thyroiditis (thyroid gland inflammation) can cause scalloped tongue and swelling in the tongue. Conditions that cause inflammation and tissue infiltration that can lead the tongue to become enlarged.

2. Can a scalloped tongue cause irritation or pain in the throat?

Sometimes mild symptoms of redness, pain, irritation, and tenderness may occur.

3. Is scalloped tongue reason to worry?

A scalloped tongue usually is not a reason to worry, but its potential causes can lead to further complications that can affect your dental health if not treated in time.

4. Is genetic condition or birth defect that can cause a scalloped tongue?

If you are born with some disorders or diseases that may lead to macroglossia and scalloped tongue. These include:
Down syndrome
congenital hypothyroidism
Apert syndrome

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