Scalloped Tongue, Causes, Pictures, Dehydration, Chinese Medicine, Thyroid, Diagnosis, Treatment

What does it mean to have a scalloped tongue? Through this article, we shall provide you with comprehensive information about the causes which includes dehydration, diagnosis and treatment of this condition. We have also provided pictures and Chinese medicine for this condition.

 A scalloped tongue is a tongue with a series of projections. The condition can also be referred to as crenated tongue, lingual indentata or pie crust tongue.  The projections appear as indentation along the lateral borders of the tongue due to compression of the tongue against the adjacent teeth. A swollen tongue will become larger than normal, it can thus press on the teeth causing these indentations.

A Scalloped Tongue
A Scalloped Tongue

Scalloped tongue causes

A scalloped tongue is harmless. In itself, it is not a disease but a manifestation of an underlying complication. To understand the underlying cause, you need have a dentist or a professional health practitioner diagnose the condition for early and effective treatment.

Below we have provided some of the possible causes of scalloped tongue. Remember the conditions provided are not conclusive neither can they be used to substitute a physical medical diagnosis. The cause of the scalloping will vary from person to person depending on the underlying medical conditions.

People with scalloped tongue will have long and narrow indentations along the sides of the tongues. The color of the tongue might not change, but it is common to have redness due to friction or compression of the tongue edges against the teeth.

Scalloped tongue HIV

Dentist are in most cases among the firs health professional to notice the signs and symptoms of a weak immune system. The signs can be infection controlled by a healthy person. When test and treatment administered, the infection will not show up again.

Most people will however shy away from getting tested. That means they may be infected and not know it. It is therefore very important to have regular dental checkups to help learn of weak immune system for early medication and treatment. According to the US Health Resources and services Administration, over one third of people with HIV will have at least a major case of oral problem including scalloping.

Apart from scalloping, other oral problems that can show up in people with HIV will include the following,

  • Dry mouth
  • Oral thrush
  • Canker sore
  • Gum diseases
  • Enlarged salivary glands
  • Shingles

Vitamin deficiency

Vitamin deficiency is another common cause of scalloping. The lack of equate folic acid or vitamin B12 would readily show on your mouth and teeth. Insufficient or lack of vitamin B12 will cause swollen tongue.  The cause of this would be gastrointestinal problems preventing the absorption of vitamins.

Inadequate or poor intake of vitamin B12 could lead to a blood disorder known as megaloblastic anemia. This condition can lead to underproduction of red blood cells and can result in various symptoms including scalloped tongue.

Vitamin B12 is a nutrient found in some foods like meat, fish, eggs and milk. Megaloblastic anemia occurs when your body cannot absorb enough of these vitamin. Megaloblastic anemia caused by lack of vitamin is referred to as pernicious anemia.

With megaloblastic anemia, treatment will include dietary change, oral vitamin supplements and in some cases vitamin B12 injections. A professional nutritionist will be able to prescribe the right combinations of foods to help remedy the condition and prevent future deficiencies.

Scalloped tongue sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which one has one or more pauses while asleep. The breath pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. The pauses can occur 30 times or more an hour. Normal breathing can then start, sometime with a snort or a choking sound.

This kinds of distributed patterns while asleep often makes ones tongue fall back into the oral cavity. At the state, the teeth are likely to exert pressure on the tongue causing scalloping. The scalping is common in the edges of the tongue. In rare cases, sleep apnea can cause pie crust.

Treatment for the condition will I most cases depend on how severe the condition is. For mild cases of sleep apnea, your doctor will recommend lifestyle changes. This will include measures such as losing weight or quitting smoking. If the sleep apnea is caused by nasal allergy, then treatment for the allergy will be recommended.

If the above measure do not improve the condition, or the condition is moderate or severe, a number of other treatment options can be administered.  In cases of destructive sleep apnea, a continuous positive airway pressure device CPAP, a mask that fits over the nose and/or the mouth, t blows air into the airway and helps to keep it open during sleep. This method is highly effective.

Swollen tongue

Swollen or enlarged tongue can occur as an allergic reaction to medications or other substances. The tissues of the tongue. This condition is medically known as angioedema. A swollen tongue could lead to breathing problems and may be a medical emergency.

A swollen tongue tends to exert pressure to your dental arches. With this kind of pressure, it is common to develop scallops at the edge of tongue. The scallops are not permanent, they can clear on their own as the tongue shrinks and goes back to the normal fitting size.

Apart from allergy, the swelling can also be as a result of tongue cancer, canker sores, scarlet fever and others. Dehydration can also cause the swelling of tongue which could in turn lead to scalloping. The treatment for a swollen tongue will vary depending on what the underlying cause of the swelling is.

If the cause is allergy, the best treatment option would be an injection of epinephrine. This is the best option for severe allergic reaction causing the swelling. For other causes, epinephrine injection will not work, however, for less severe causes of swelling, antihistamines and corticosteroids can be used.

Thyroid complications

Damaged or underactive thyroid can lead to deficiency or lack of thyroid hormone thus affecting the normal body function. Thyroid hormone are responsible for regulating the way uses energy, that is the hormone are responsible for metabolism. Without this function, many of the body functions will slow down.

With lack of sufficient thyroid hormone, it is possible to have swollen face and tongue. As discussed above, swollen tongue is one of the reason for scalloping along the edges of the tongue. Thyroid disorder can range from a small, harmless goiter to a life threatening cancer. The most common thyroid complication will involve abnormal production of thyroid hormones.

Once diagnosed with thyroid disorder or complication, various treatment option exist to try and resort a balance between the required levels and the amount of thyroid hormones production. Conventional treatment relay mostly on drugs and surgery. Alternative treatment will try to relieve some of the symptoms associated with thyroid problems.

Treating hyperthyroidism requires suppressing the manufacture of thyroid hormone. On the other hand hypothyroidism will demand hormone replacement. Based on an evaluation of your particular thyroid condition, your age, general health and medical history, your doctor can make the best medical evaluation. Treatment will therefore include radioactive iodide treatment, anti-thyroid medication

General stress

Some studies have linked stress to pie crust tongue. Most of individuals under lots of stress or who suffer from anxiety disorder develop the habit of oppressing the tongue with their teeth. This, as said can cause scalloping along the edges of the tongue.

Some medical condition might also cause this. Anxiety often creates extreme tension, with time, a stressed person will develop the habit of constantly contracting our muscles tension. This can cause back aches, stiffness in various places and can even cause the tongue to scallop.

Scalloped tongue anxiety

Anxiety is the feeling of worry, nervousness or unease. This feeling can be caused by an imminent event or uncertain outcome. Severe cases can be characterized by excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behavior or panic attacks.

Anxiety can cause a person to develop habits such as clenching, gridding or pressuring the tongue against dental arches. Doing this for long times can lead to developing scallops on tongue. Some people are known to press their tongue on teeth when anxious,

When you rule out medication as the cause of the anxiety, we can then say you have a generalized anxiety disorder. Other common condition capable of showing the same symptoms as anxiety are hyperthyroidism and other endocrine problems. Medication is very important in alleviating the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. Your doctor will prescribe different medication together with other forms of therapy.

Different anxiety disorders will call for different regimens of medication. Some are designed to prevent the condition whereas others are to cure the problems. Antidepressants can be used for both the prevention and curing of the condition. For acute anxiety or panic attack, you will have to take anti-anxiety medication. Benzodiazepines can be used for immediate relief.

Scalloped tongue thyroid

A human thyroid is a large ductless gland in the neck that secretes hormones that regulate growth and development through the rate of metabolism. Whereas the tongue is an important muscle that help in chewing, swallowing and speech, a damaged or underactive thyroid may cause problems such as scalloping on tongue.

For a health person, the color of the tongue is in most cases pink. With hypothyroidism, the tongue will become scalloped, swollen, dry, coated and painful. These symptoms will clearly indicate the possibility of an underling medical condition. As stated, the thyroid gland produces a hormone that plays a very important role in your metabolism, releasing energy. This hormone also plays an important part in cell differentiation, cell metabolism and regulates how nutrients are used.

Underactive thyroid are common during pregnancy. It can also be caused by thyroid at birth, pituitary glands disorder of the hypothalamus. If left untreated, it could lead to other serious conditions such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, low or high blood pressure or arthritis.

For thyroid complication causing scalloped tongue, treatment will involve hormone replacement therapy, diet change which will involve taking food rich in vitamin B, radiation therapy and homeopathic medicines. All this will done after a physical diagnosis by a professional healthcare provider.

Scalloped tongue pictures

Below we have provided images to help show how a scalloped tongue appears like. Remember the appearance of will change or vary from person to person depending on the actual cause of the scalloping. The mages provided should only be used for illustration purposes and not as a substitute for a physical diagnosis.

Scalloped Tongue Pictures
Scalloped Tongue Pictures
Scalloped Tongue Meaning - Pictures
Scalloped Tongue Meaning – Pictures

Scalloped tongue symptoms

The symptoms exhibited by a person with scalloped tongue will vary from person to person ad will in most cases depend on the underlying condition causing the crenation. General symptoms can include the following:

  • Enlarged or swollen tongue
  • Groove like impressions of the teeth on sides of tongue
  • Redness of the tongue especially when there is pressure or friction on tongue
  • Mouth dryness (dehydration)
  • Inflammation at levels of face, swelling visible on eyelid and lips
  • Others would include sore throat, tongue pain and others.

    Scalloped Tongue Symptoms
    Scalloped Tongue Symptoms

Other symptoms are specific to the underlying condition causing the scalloping. Some are discussed in this article under the causes.

Scalloped tongue dehydration

Dehydration or dryness can also cause scalloping. The percentage of the body weight made up of water will vary depending on a number of factor. These factor includes age, gender, fitness levels and body weight. An irony is that fatty tissues contains less water compared to lean tissue. That is to say, overweight people have less water as a percentage of body weight than lean people.

Since women have a higher percentage of fatty tissue, the average adult women is 55% water whereas the percentage of water for men is 60% .drinking a lot of artificial drinks could very well be causing dehydration. Tongue fissures corresponds to various types of yin-deficiency problems. Dehydration is a good example of such.

That is to say dehydration could very well be related to tongue fissures. The elimination of all minerals and vitamins could also result in geographical tongue as several medical studies around the globe have indicated.

Scalloped tongue edges

Crenation or scalloping of the tongue is common on the edges of tongue than any other part. Due to the compression of the teeth arch, the indentation will in most cases appear along the lateral borders of the tongue common along the edges of the tongue.

As started, scalloping is not a disease, it is an asymptomatic harmless condition caused by the pressure exerted on the tongue by the teeth. It can also be caused by dehydration and dryness in mouth. People with downs syndrome or those with large tongue that fail to fit inn mouth are the most affected with this condition.

Before resolving to treat a crenated tongue edge, you need to have a professional doctor diagnose the condition for effective treatment and medication of the underlying medical condition. The doctor will run some test to find out if there are other visible treatment before recommending the right treatment.

Scalloped tongue Chinese medicine

A common believe in Chinese medicine is that scalloping occurs due to the deficiency of qi and yang in the body. These are the elements responsible for keeping some organ like tongue smooth and holds them in a good shape.

Lack of or deficiency of these elements in your diet is believed to cause the tongue to develop an improper shape. The bulging shape of the tongue will exert pressure of the tongue will exerts pressure of the teeth arch causing marks to appear on the edges of the tongue. Qi deficiency can mean lack of energy, to remedy this, you need to have enough body rest, sleep and avoid doing lots of tasks at the same time to time to avoid stress.

Spleen yang or qi deficiencies can also be shown by the presences of teeth marks together with swollen tongue. The tongue can also be pale and moist according to Chinese medicine. Scalloping can be cleared by having a lifestyle change, you need to avoid foods that may lead to water retention. Reduce the intake of sweat foods such as refined carbohydrates, dairy products, slat or excessive fats. Instead consider eating whole grain, seaweed, tea, vinegar and lean meat.

Scalloped tongue diagnosis, treatment

Treatment for a scalloped tongue will vary depending on the underlying cause of the scalloping and the extent. As started, a crenated tongue is harmless and does not pose any risk to your general health, however treatment is required especially if the underlying cause of the scalloping could result in a risky condition.

Above, on each causes, we have provided details on symptoms, diagnosis and treatment for the condition likely to cause the scalloping. Please refer, for details on treatment options.


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