Scalloped Tongue: Causes and Treatment

Research shows that a scalloped tongue can come from an inflammation, or an enlargement of your tongue. So when this happens, the tongue will be further compressed in your teeth, ending up in having scallops.

Scalloped Tongue

A scalloped tongue is not a common condition. But it does not mean that you should not learn about it. For starters, you will know that you have a scalloped tongue when it has scalloped, indented, or rippled edges. You can immediately notice it on the utmost side of your tongue.

Also known as the pie crust tongue, the scalloped tongue can be painful and irritable. This is why if you feel like you have one, do not hesitate to continue reading this article to know more about the said condition.

Possible Causes

Of course, you will not get a scalloped tongue overnight. Research shows that a scalloped tongue can come from macroglossia, an inflammation, or an enlargement of your tongue. So when this happens, the tongue will be further compressed in your teeth, ending up in having scallops. Other possible causes are:

Sleep apnea

Research shows that sleep apnea is a sign of a scalloped tongue. This is because when the body has water but limited oxygen, it can have fluid swelling in the tongue, neck, and head. There was even a study conducted that proved that people with scalloped tongues have sleep apnea.

Temporomandibular joint conditions

Temporomandibular joint or other chronic conditions that are connected to the jaw can cause a scalloped tongue. This is because the tongue suffers from dehydration or teeth grinding. Another reason could be that the lower teeth are pushing too much that it fails to accommodate the misaligned joint.

Studies have also proven that women with these joint conditions tend to experience headaches as well as scalloped tongues.


Experts believe that smoking can irritate your mucosal tissues that can lead to inflammation and swelling. It can also result in an immune response. Other than those, smoking can increase your chances of being dehydrated, the main cause of scalloped tongue.


As mention, dehydration is one of the biggest causes of the scalloped tongue. This is because it makes the tongue compressed and indention of your teeth.

Mineral and vitamin deficiencies

Surprisingly, you can develop a scalloped tongue when your body lacks minerals and vitamins, particularly vitamin B. It is because this vitamin is responsible for tongue enlargement. Take note that these lacking these minerals can also lead to scalloped tongue:

  • Iron
  • Niacin
  • Riboflavin
  • Vitamin B-12
  • Allergic reaction, infection, or injury

As you might know, your immune system can have inflammation when there are allergens, infection, or injury. If your tongue enlarges and swells, there is a tendency that it will press against your teeth and lead to indentation.

Parafunctional activities

Parafunctional activities or bad habits can also give you a scalloped tongue. These habits include picking your teeth, check sucking, and teeth grinding. Other times, you can also get scalloped tongue when you are stressed, have sleep disorders, or experience trauma.

Infiltrative or inflammatory conditions

These consist of long-term inflammatory illnesses such as an abnormal buildup of cells. It is also possible that you get a scalloped tongue from the genes of your family. Other conditions that can lead to this are the following:

  • Tuberculosis
  • Angioedema
  • Amyloidosis
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Lipoid proteinosis
  • Down syndrome


Aside from seeing your tongue look unusual, some symptoms may appear when you have a scalloped tongue. Take note that these symptoms may or may not appear when you have a scalloped tongue:

  • Sore throat
  • Redness
  • Soreness or tenderness
  • Pain


If you believe that you have a scalloped tongue, you need to visit your doctor immediately. He or she will require you to tell all the symptoms that you are experiencing as well as your medical history. Then, he or she will ask you to undergo the following:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Biopsy
  • Blood tests


The treatment of your condition will depend on the cause. If the illness is severe and caused by infiltrative conditions or genetics, then surgery is the best solution.

Other treatments options are:

  • Nasal dilators
  • CPAP machine
  • Surgery to correct the shape or your tongue or change the size of the tongue
  • Surgery to eliminate the abnormal or excess deposits of the cells and tissues
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Thyroid hormone medications
  • Dental devices
  • Anti-inflammatory medications

But if the condition is already worst, for example, cancer of tuberculosis, then you will have to undergo a different set of treatments. The good news is that there is a home remedy to treat this condition:

  • Medication for chronic conditions
  • Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications
  • Ice and warm compress
  • Therapy
  • Avoid stress and anxiety
  • Quit smoking
  • Avoid mouth irritation or allergens
  • Keep a healthy weight
  • Maintain good oral hygiene
  • Follow a balanced and healthy diet
  • Stay hydrated

When To Visit A Doctor

Although there are several home remedies for the scalloped tongue, you should not be complacent in getting treatment for your doctor. It is always better that you seek professional help, especially when the symptoms are painful or long-term.

Also, if all the home remedies are not working on you, do not hesitate to see your doctor. There can be instances as well when the symptoms are rare and severe that only professionals can provide you with the best and recommended solutions for you.

Having a scalloped tongue is no joke. It can be irritable and painful, especially when the condition is already severe. That is why when you are sure that you have this condition, immediately visit your doctor. He or she will give you the necessary treatment that can help you treat a scalloped tongue. Also, it is best to prevent having this condition by being healthy and hydrated at all times.

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