5 reasons that could explain a scalloped tongue

If you’re one of many people who have a scalloped tongue, there could be an underlying condition causing it.

According to Medical News Today, a scalloped tongue is a common condition where the tongue has indented, rippled or scalloped edges.

“It typically arises from the tongue persistently pressing against the teeth.” Dr. Neeraj Panchal, chief of oral and maxillofacial surgery at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, told HuffPost.

While some might chalk it up to having a wider tongue, the condition could mean you need to see a doctor. Here are five reasons that could explain a scalloped tongue, according to HuffPost.

Vitamin deficiency

Some people are born with a wide tongue, others can experience it because of a vitamin B deficiency. Specifically, B12, B2 and B9 can not only cause inflammation of the gums, but can also lead to a swollen tongue and a reduction in red blood cell production. B vitamins are essential for cell regeneration and helping to maintain mucosal tissues — the lining — of the mouth. A scalloped tongue could also be a sign of dehydration.

Teeth grinding

Teeth grinding, clenching and other bad oral habits not only cause headaches, jaw pain and wreck your teeth, but can also cause extra pressure to be placed on the sides of the tongue.

“The teeth press against the tongue over time and cause these indentations. Treatment includes managing stress and wearing a bite guard appliance which your dentist can easily make for you,” toothpaste company Colgate wrote on its website.

Sleep apnea

A scalloped tongue may be a sign of sleep apnea because of the difficulty breathing while asleep. According to Healthline, “You may subconsciously push your tongue down into your teeth to open the airway, which can lead to a scalloped tongue.”

TMJ disorder

Temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, disorders happen in the lower jawbone and skull, and can cause jaw pain, difficulty opening or closing the mouth, and earaches.

“The misalignment or dysfunction associated with TMJ disorders can reduce the space for the tongue, contributing to a scalloped appearance,” Dr. Soroush Zaghi, a Los Angeles ear, nose and throat doctor and sleep surgeon, told HuffPost.

Thyroid issue

If you have hypothyroidism you might experience a scalloped tongue because the body doesn’t make enough thyroid hormones, causing it to swell more aggressively against the teeth.

“Changes in the size and appearance of the tongue can result from thyroid gland dysfunction, whether in hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism,” iCliniq wrote on its website.

No matter the reason, its important to keep an eye on oral hygiene. If the condition becomes painful or persists over time, experts say that’s an indicator to see a doctor, dentist or ear nose and throat professional.