Scalloped Tongue – Causes and Treatment

Scalloped tongue is a common issue that explains damages of the tongue, due to the fact it has been enlarged, so it pressures the teeth.

In any case, it will get very big and it will develop certain marks on the sides. As the end result, you will notice issues on the sides and the tongue will look different.

Although, most people don’t experience changes in the color, some parts of the tongue may be radish and the sides are almost in every case the most affected. This condition is also known as wavy tongue and it has been related to most other symptoms and similar issues.

Symptoms of the scalloped tongue

There are several symptoms of the scalloped tongue. In most cases, they are very easy to notice and they can cause discomfort.

However, they may be a side effect of another condition that is usually very severe. In addition, the most common symptoms are:

  • Edges and damages on the sides of the tongue
  • Red color of the tongue, but in most cases the tongue will maintain the normal color
  • Swollen tongue
  • Sore throat and pain in a tongue

Keep in mind that if you have any of these symptoms, you need a medical attention. In most cases you are going to need a medical attention, but a treatment is simple and it doesn’t cause pain.

However, you should know that there may be underlying issues related to scalloped tongue.


There are a lot of different causes for scalloped tongue. A great thing is that all of them cane treated and they are curable. On the other side, some of them may be harder to solve and they may require a lot of time (a long treatment).

It is hard to detect the main reason by yourself, but it is easy for a doctor, so if you notice some of the main symptoms, or symptoms that are treated as the cause, a medical attention is more than just needed. The most common causes of the scalloped tongue are:

  • This is the most common cause and it is related to the thyroid gland. It produces certain hormones that regulate processes in the body, including metabolism. During this condition, your lips and your tongue may be affected and they may be swollen. At the same time, you will experience dry skin, muscle pain, depression and etc. The treatment is long lasting, but it is effective. In this case, the scalloped tongue will be a side effect of the condition in question. If you have just several, oral, symptoms, it is mandatory to call a doctor as soon as possible and to start the treatment.
  • TMJ syndrome. This syndrome affects the nerves that connect the muscles and nerves of the lower jaw and the skull. In any case, patients usually use their tongue to correct this issue, which has been related to the scalloped tongue. The treatment is simple and it causes a surgery and you may need remodeling of the teeth. However, living with this condition is far more severe and it has been linked to most issues.
  • Water retention. This issue is the hardest to detect. It has been defined as the water build up in the body, due to the fact our body cannot turn the water and food properly into the energy. As the end result, scalloped tongue occurs. A treatment is simple and it includes changing the lifestyle and a diet.
  • Sleep apnea. The condition in question has been linked to respiratory system problems that occur during sleep. It means that your tongue will fall back in the cavity and it may be crushed with the teeth. It is a very rare cause of the scalloped tongue and it is very hard to detect it. In simple words, this condition causes the tongue to be forced towards the teeth that cause marks of the scalloped tongue.
  • Swollen tongue. Scalloped tongue may be a side effect of the swollen tongue that happens due to dehydration or a cancer. In any case, it is mandatory to visit a doctor and determine the main cause. This also means that the tongue will get bigger and it will start pressuring the teeth, which will cause the marks in question.
  • B12 deficiency. If you have a deficiency of certain minerals and vitamins, including the B12, a swollen tongue will occur. As you may know, a swollen tongue is directly connected to the scalloped tongue condition. In addition, solving the deficiency will solve the main cause as well.

There are some aspects that are more than just mandatory and they must be taken into account.

For example, if you notice a swollen tongue and a lot of pain, it may be the first symptom of an oral cancer. In this case you must start the treatment as soon as possible and try to solve it as well as possible.

In addition, a scalloped tongue may be related to sinus issues, arthritis and other issues of the digestive tract.

Diagnosing the main problem

Once you have noticed the main symptom, you must go to a doctor and try to diagnose the main cause of it.

In any case, you will be able to get the best idea if you compare all the symptoms mentioned above. In that case, you can get the idea what causes the swollen and scalloped tongue.

After that, the suitable treatment should be taken and it will solve the issue in a short time, if the cause is less severe!

Diagnosing the condition will also include several questions, related to your lifestyle. These questions may be:

  • When the symptoms started?
  • Do you have bad habits?
  • Diseases in your family?
  • Water intake?
  • Sleeping habits?

Once the verbal test is completed, a doctor will start with a physical examination. He will have to determine the size and the color of the tongue.

At the same time, he must get an idea what is causing this condition. After that, laboratory testing is mandatory. They are:

  • Anemia identification by the complete blood count (CBC)
  • Levels of the thyroid hormone
  • Several other blood tests that should help the doctor get the idea what it happening in the body


The treatment of the scalloped tongue will depend on the main cause of it. In most cases, the main cause must be solved in order to scalloped tongue be cured. This also means that there are lots of different treatments.

  • In this case, the doctor will have to diagnose the main allergy that causes scalloped tongue. The treatment includes the antihistamines and the corticosteroids (they are not for a long use and they must be taken with precaution). Keep in mind that most treatments are very productive and this issue will be solved soon.
  • This is a severe issue that requires medical attention. In fact, it requires an emergency medical attention and it is more severe to treat. A doctor may use antihistamines and intubation (in more severe questions). The recovery is usually very fast and effective, but this issue may be more than just complicated. In addition, it isn’t life threatening disease.
  • Temporomandibular jaw. In this case, a patient will require a surgery, due to the fact the jaw must be remodeled. In addition, remodeling teeth is usually a common approach. The surgery isn’t very complicated, but the recovery may be long and complicated.
  • Sleep issues. In this case, the main cause must be solved. This means that a patient may try Chinese medicines, a diet must be changed and there are a lot of herbal remedies that can solve the issue.
  • Sleep apnea. This also includes the use of Chinese medicines and changes of a lifestyle. However, this issue may require surgery as well. This means that a tissue must be removed and the jaw must be redesigned. It is a very effective, but again, the recovery may be long.
  • Anxiety may be the rarest cause of the scalloped tongue, but it occurs. It is mandatory to get any type of help you can. Therapists and certain medications are mandatory. Recovery is long, but the first improvements happen quickly. Also, stress, managing tactics are a great addition, but changing and solving the main cause of stress is more than just recommended.
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiency. If a patient has this issue, changing a diet is mandatory. In this case, a healthy food, rich in vitamins and minerals is more than just important. It is recommended that avoiding smoking, drinking alcohol is more than just useful. Eggs, meat, beans, fish and fruits are more than needed foods in this situation. The recovery is slow, but more than just effective.
  • Oral cancer. Sadly, the oral cancer may be the cause of scalloped tongue as well. The treatments severe and it includes therapy, radiation is surgery. Most doctors recommend that this treatment should start as soon as possible, simply due to the fact it is the most successful if it starts sooner.

The bottom line is that scalloped tongue is a symptom and not a disease. It can be treated and it can be solved in most situations, but the treatments and the length of them will depend on the main cause. Luckily, in 90% of the situation, the recovery is complete and isn’t time consuming.

As aforementioned, it is mandatory to get the help of a doctor as soon as possible, due to the fact any of those treatments is more effective if it starts soon. Don’t forget that this issue won’tdisappear without a treatment and it requires a medical attention.