A scalloped tongue, showing off its edges
Courtesy of ScallopedTongue.com 

Have you noticed that your tongue has an irregular shape, with rounded half-circle indentations around the edges? This scalloped appearance to your tongue is caused by your tongue pressing up against your teeth as it rests in your mouth. The condition has a number of informal names, including crenated tongue, lingua indentata, or pie crust tongue.

There are many potential reasons why your tongue may be pressing up against your teeth. It’s possible that this is a symptom of systemic health problems. Perhaps your teeth are not spaced out properly to allow adequate room for your tongue. Maybe your tongue is thrusting up against your teeth.

Habits Contribute to Scalloped Tongue

Bad habits are one of the most common causes of scalloped tongue. many people thrust their tongue against their teeth. Others grind their teeth, suck at their cheeks, or pick at their teeth. All these habits can contribute to the appearance of scalloped tongue.

Other habits contribute to scalloped tongue because they encourage dehydration or cause systemic inflammation. This includes smoking and heavy alcohol consumption.

Systemic Health Problems and a Scalloped Tongue

One of the reasons why your tongue may be pressing up against your teeth is that it may be swollen. A number of systemic health problems can cause swelling of the tongue. One of the most common is hypothyroidism. In hypothyroidism, your thyroid isn’t producing enough thyroid hormone.  This affects your metabolism and can lead to obesity and other major health problems. Allergies often lead to tongue swelling. Tuberculosis and some types of cancer have been linked to scalloped tongue.

Some nutrient deficiencies may be associated with scalloped tongue, and in Chinese medicine spleen deficiency is also considered a cause of scalloped tongue. And injury can lead to tongue swelling.

If you have a scalloped tongue, you should talk to your doctor about these potential problems as well as sleep apnea, which may be caused by an enlarged tongue. A 2017 study found that people with a heavily scalloped tongue were more than twice as likely to have sleep apnea.

Scalloped Tongue and Your Teeth

However, your tongue may be scalloped because your lower jaw is too narrow or because your tongue is trying to make up for a bad bite, which may or may not be associated with TMJ.

If your teeth aren’t fitting together properly, they may not stabilize your jaw well enough for swallowing muscles to work. In this case, your tongue may try to help out by pressing against your teeth to provide stability. This not only leads to scalloping of the tongue, it can further displace your teeth and make it even harder to stabilize your jaw for swallowing. Adjusting your bite so it comes together in a stable way can eliminate the need for this behavior, and therefore will help keep your teeth in place..

If you think a bad bite might be responsible for your scalloped tongue, we can help. Please call (912) 234-8282 for an appointment with a Savannah neuromuscular dentist at Beyond Exceptional Dentistry.