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Why Does My Tongue Appear Scalloped?

Your tongue is a muscular organ in your mouth that features tiny bumps that allow you to taste. A healthy tongue is moist, pink, and smooth on its edges. So if you notice a rippling effect on the sides of your tongue, you might worry about your oral health.

These indents in the tongue appear as an impression of the teeth pressing against this organ. It is not always considered a dental emergency, but the condition of a scalloped tongue is abnormal.

The cause of a scalloped tongue can determine if you require intervention from your dentist or not. Read on to learn about four potential reasons that you can develop a scalloped tongue.

Why Does My Tongue Appear Scalloped


One of the most common reasons your tongue can appear scalloped is dehydration. When your body lacks enough water, your organs can begin to swell in an effort to retain moisture. This will happen in your tongue as well, then the tongue will press against the teeth to create this rippled appearance.

Make sure you drink plenty of water to avoid low hydration levels. Drink at least eight eight-ounce glasses of water daily and more than that amount if you consume dehydrating agents like alcohol or caffeine.

Untreated Bruxism

Grinding or clenching your teeth is a habit affecting many people. The grating of the top teeth against the bottom teeth will generate pressure that could lead to a dental injury. But excess pressure and movement of the jaw and teeth can give you a scalloped tongue too.

Try to reduce your stress levels in order to prevent bruxism habits that stem from anxiety. You may want to talk to your dentist about wearing a night guard to protect your smile from teeth grinding that can occur as you sleep.

Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea refers to a disorder in which the soft tissue at the back of the throat relaxes too much during sleep so that it collapses. This creates a blockage that briefly disrupts your ability to breathe. Untreated sleep apnea may lead to many health risks, but this disorder can also make your tongue scalloped.

This can happen because the tongue may press against the teeth when your body experiences strain from the acute cessation of respiration. Other symptoms of sleep apnea include gasping awake or feeling groggy during the day.

Do not ignore signs of sleep apnea. Your dentist or your doctor can evaluate your condition and provide appropriate treatment.

Underlying Health Problems

A scalloped tongue can be a symptom of other medical concerns. Certain nutritional deficiencies, for instance, may lead to swelling within the mouth that can lead to a scalloped tongue. Adhere to a balanced, nutrient-rich diet to avoid this issue.

Other conditions, like hypothyroidism, can lead to swelling in the tongue and elsewhere that could lead to the tongue’s scalloped appearance. If the idents in the tongue seem to persist on a chronic basis, ask your dentist about what could be causing this problem.