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Scalloped Tongue: What you need to know

Synonymous with terms like rippled tongue, crenated tongue, piecrust tongue, or lingua indenta; scalloped tongues are characterised by a pattern of rippling or scalloped edges on the outermost sides of the tongue. They rarely cause you any pain or discomfort.

Although they are virtually evident, they have very little impact on appearance or smile. However, a scalloped tongue is an important indicator of underlying critical complications to your dental health. Therefore, you should always take proactive measures to help prevent or treat your indented tongue.

While there is a plethora of factors that contribute to the presence of a scalloped tongue, they are most commonly related with poor dental hygiene and other underlying medical issues. In addition to this, a scalloped tongue can also be the resultant outcome of a dental problem known as Macroglossia, i.e., an abnormal enlargement or swelling of the tongue.

Scalloped tongues are frequently overlooked by the naked eye. But, if left untreated, they can become a primary component of several other dental and medical conditions. Hence, before we explore our treatment options, we must first understand what causes a scalloped tongue.

What Causes Scalloped Tongue?

Scalloped edges are the resultant outcome of pressing your tongue against your teeth. However, the sides of the tongue develop these uneven forms for the following reasons:


Dehydration can cause your entire body to swell, including your tongue. When the swollen tongue is pressed against your teeth, it can lead to the development of scalloped edges. These edges are formed as a result of persistent indentation by the teeth.


You may be wondering how the state of your mental health impacts your oral health. It’s true. Your mental faculties, especially emotions such as stress & anxiety play a major role in influencing the dental aspect of your physical self.

But how?

When you are anxious or stressed, you instinctively tend to clench your jaws or grind your teeth. But habits like bruxism, teeth grinding, or jaw clenching can apply unwarranted pressure on your tongue causing it to indent on its sides.

Infiltrative Conditions

Some medical problems that produce long-term inflammation in your body can also play a role in the development of a scalloped tongue. Also, genetic conditions (ex: down syndrome) or other inflammatory problems (ex: hypothyroidism), have a significant part in the formation of a scalloped tongue.

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders

The joint that connects your jaw to your skull, can sometimes become misaligned or stuck. When this happens, excessive pressure is added to your tongue. Due to this pressure, you may develop an indentation on the edges of your tongue.

Sleep Apnoea

One of the most problematic sleep disorders is obstructive sleep apnoea, which causes your breathing to become erratic while you sleep. But how does this cause a scalloped tongue? Let us enlighten you.

When your body lacks the necessary quantity of oxygen, it begins to retain water. Owing to this reason, a significant amount of fluid swelling is seen in the head, neck, and tongue. This can lead to a scalloped tongue.


Smoking activates the immune system and irritates the mucosal tissues. As a result of this, you are exposed to greater risks of swelling and inflammation in your entire body. It can also lead you to dehydration. The combined effort of these two factors can increase your likelihood of developing a scalloped tongue.

The Nutrition Factor

Did you know? Scalloped tongue can be the resultant outcome of an insufficient nutritional diet. This means that, if you do not get enough vitamins and minerals such as iron, niacin, riboflavin, etc., then, you will be subjected to lingual indenta.

What are the Symptoms of a Scalloped Tongue?

Now that we know how scalloped tongues are caused, we need to be able to identify this dental issue. By paying attention to the symptoms exhibited by your body, you will be able to recognize the oral problem. Listed below are some of these symptoms:

As soon as these symptoms have been discovered, you need to visit your doctor first, to rule out any chronic and potentially impactful conditions. Next, you will need to visit your dentists to tackle this issue using the dental way.


Firstly, a doctor will assess your medical history, and then initiate the procedure for diagnosing a scalloped tongue. This is done by conducting a series of tests such as a blood test or a biopsy, to rule out any potential medical conditions you may have.

Next, the doctor will make use of CT scans and MRI scans to get a visual analysis of your tongue. Once this is done and if no other potential health issues have been identified, you will be referred to a dentist who will begin to analyse your oral health through dental instruments and dental scanners.

Once a diagnosis is made, your dentist will work with you to discuss a variety of dental treatments that will help treat your scalloped tongue problem.

Treating Scalloped Tongue:

The scalloped tongue can be treated using a plethora of therapeutic approaches. However, the selection of a suitable treatment option largely depends upon the cause of the problem.

Case in point, if you develop a rippled tongue as a result of a genetic or inflammatory condition, then you may require invasive surgery to either remove the excess build-up of cells and tissues in your tongue or restore the shape of your tongue.

Apart from these complicated solutions, there are several other ways to treat scalloped tongue, such as:

Home Remedies:

According to the medical advice provided by our dental practitioners, listed below are some of the home remedies for the scalloped tongue: 

  • Remember to stay hydrated: You may easily prevent or decrease the symptoms of a scalloped tongue by drinking plenty of water.
  • Balanced Diet: A healthy and well-balanced diet is essential. This decreases the likelihood of nutritional deficiencies harming your body.
  • Oral Hygiene: it is equally essential to follow good oral hygiene. By doing so, you can easily preserve the health of your tongue.
  • Improve lifestyle habits: you need to incorporate some major changes to your lifestyle such as doing yoga, quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding stressful situations.
  • OTC Medications: By taking over-the-counter medications like pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medicines, you can reduce the swelling of your tongue.
  • Compress-based Treatment: apply both cold and warm compresses alternatively to your tongue. Follow this pattern regularly for 20 minutes a day.
  • Routine Dental Check-ups: work with your dentist to put a halt to bad orthodontic habits such as clenching, grinding, or bruxism. Also, a regular dental check-up will help maintain your oral health.

When to see a doctor?

Do not keep a problematic scalloped tongue on the back burner!

When you notice a lingering pain or redness on your tongue, seek medical attention as early as possible. If these problems are kept untreated for a longer period, they can expose your oral health to a wide set of dental problems. It can also cause detrimental effects on your overall physical well-being.

Moreover, according to our dental experts, you need to visit a doctor as soon as your tongue stops responding to anti-inflammatory medications. Also, if your swelling does not reduce despite making proactive and preventative lifestyle changes, then you would require medical help.

A dentist can easily identify unhealthy dental habits that contribute to a scalloped tongue. So, remember to get your dental health checked from time to time. The dentist may suggest different types of viable orthodontic treatment options that will help correct your bite, and thereby reduce your scalloped tongue symptoms.

Armed with a team of dental experts, we can guarantee you smooth and cohesive orthodontic care, that will leave you feeling confident about your tongue.

Check out our website, to know more about our orthodontic services.

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