In general, a scalloped tongue is harmless. It’s really not a disease, but a manifestation of an underlying health condition. It’s important to consult your doctor to find out the root cause and appropriate treatment. Today, let’s find out the different scalloped tongue causes and treatment options.
People with scalloped tongue have long and narrow indentations along the sides of their tongues. The color of the tongue doesn’t usually change, but there might be some redness due to friction or compression of the tongue edges against the teeth.
- 1 Scalloped Tongue Causes?
- 2 What Are The Treatments for Scalloped Tongue?
Scalloped Tongue Causes?
There are a number of factors that cause a tongue to swell. It could be due to inflammation, diseases that promote fluid retention, and allergic reaction to certain medications.
There are approximately 4.6% Americans age 12 and above who produce low levels of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism), according to the Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. When your thyroid glands produce little to zero hormones, there would be problems in the absorption of vitamins and minerals, excretion of excess fluids, and overall metabolism process of the body. All of these factors could cause a scalloped tongue.
Scalloped tongue could be a sign that a person’s at risk for sleep apnea. Popular belief says that sleep apnea sufferers have relatively small jaws that aren’t appropriate for the size of their tongues. What’s more, they have to deal with long-term acid refluxes with each obstruction, which in turn promotes inflammation and tongue swelling.
Any deficiency in folic acid and vitamin B12 would readily show on your mouth and teeth. People who are deficient of vitamin B12 normally experience swollen tongue. Health conditions, like pernicious anemia, prevent the absorption of this vitamin because of gastrointestinal problems.
What Are The Treatments for Scalloped Tongue?
Correct diagnosis of the causative factor is an important step in treating scalloped tongue. Work closely with your doctor to get the proper diagnosis and treatment. Meanwhile, here are some tips and home remedies you could use for each common cause of scalloped tongue:
Treatment for Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficiency normally happens on people with digestive system problems. The reason is they either produce low amounts of stomach acid or lack intrinsic factor, which is a type of protein our bodies need to absorb B12. Vegans are also at risk for this type of deficiency because of their diet, which excludes animal-based products, like eggs, milk, meat, and cheese.
Fortunately, there are different ways to prevent and treat this problem.
Your doctor could give you Hydroxocobalamin injections at least every two to four days. If you’re vegan, there are other ways you could get your supply of B12, like eating fortified breakfast cereals and drinking soy milk. If you’re not under any special diet, try to include these foods in your daily meals: beef liver, plain yogurt, tuna, milk, eggs, roasted chicken, clams, and salmon.
Take an inventory of the dietary supplements and medicines you’re taking. Birth control pills, zinc, folic acid, and Metformin (for diabetes) can lower the amount of B12 in your body. Before you stop any of your medicines, make sure to ask your doctor first.
Treatment for Underactive Thyroid (Hypothyroidism)
Doctors would generally prescribe oral synthetic hormone, particularly levothyroxine, for an underactive thyroid. This works by either supplying more or replacing lost thyroid hormones in order to reverse the signs and symptoms of this disorder.
Experts are still debating whether diet does play a crucial role in managing this disorder. Patients are often discouraged from eating goitrogenic foods, such as broccoli, mustard greens, spinach, peanuts, kale, cauliflower, strawberries, and radishes, because they interfere with the normal production of thyroid hormones.
In the U.S., people normally get enough iodine from their daily diet through iodized table salt. Iodine is important because it plays a key role in the production of thyroid hormone. Other food sources of iodine are meat, dairy products, eggs, fish sticks, cod, seafood, baked potato with peel.
It’s also important to include magnesium-rich foods in your diet. Magnesium deficiency often causes hypothyroidism. Some excellent food sources of magnesium are pumpkin seeds, beans, almonds, avocados, and cashews.
Note that you should eat these foods hours before or after taking your synthetic hormone medication to avoid any negative interactions.
Treatment for Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a major sleep disorder that causes a person to stop breathing repeatedly. For mild cases, lifestyle changes are often enough to lessen the episodes of sleep apnea.
Here are some lifestyle changes you could do:
- Quit smoking, if you smoke. The nicotine in tobacco relaxes the muscle in your airway. This could increase the possibility of airway obstruction while you’re sleeping.
- Get 8 to 9 hours of sleep every night. Sleep apnea seems to happen frequently if a person is tired.
- Sleep on your side or stomach to prevent your tongue from obstructing your airway.
- Start shedding off the extra pounds to ease the constriction of your throat.
- Avoid taking sleeping pills, alcoholic beverages, and tranquilizers. They could interfere with your breathing because they promote relaxation of the muscles in the back of your throat.
Treatment for a Swollen Tongue
A tongue swells due to a number of reasons. In most cases, it’s due to food allergies. Other times it’s a way for our bodies to protect us against infection, which is a good thing. However, when the tongue remains swollen for too long, it could cause more harm than good.
Over-the-counter antihistamines are usually enough to ease mild cases of food allergies. Knowing your food triggers is important. If you don’t know what it is, you can start a food journal or blog for at least fourteen days. Write down as much details as you can, including the portion size, method of food preparation, and how you were feeling within forty-eight hours.
Eating out can be challenging because you don’t know what specific ingredients are used to make the food you’re about to eat. As much as possible, skip the dishes you’re not familiar with. Whenever you shop for food, make sure to read food labels to ensure the product doesn’t contain ingredients you’re allergic to.
Treatment for Stress
Stress is part of life. Overwhelming or chronic stress is another story. If we don’t manage stress well, it could throw our health off balance. It’s not going to be a surprise if it also causes scalloped tongue.
There are no solid clinical trials that link stress to scalloped tongue. However, there are several theories that exist. One theory suggests that stress could lead to poor food habits. We tend to pick junk comfort foods, like sugary and fatty foods, which could lead to nutritional deficiencies and thyroid function problems.
Stress could also lead us to form certain bad habits. Others tend to grind their teeth, clench their jaws, or compress their tongue to the adjacent teeth.
Tips to Manage Stress
- Get the recommended amount of sleep every night. If it’s not possible, take self-imposed breaks throughout the day to do relaxing activities, like yoga, meditation, listening to soothing music, and massage.
- Welcome humor in your life. If you can’t find a single reason to laugh or smile, fake it. Experiments show that mimicking a smile by placing a pencil (or something similar) between your lips could actually make you feel happier and less stressed.
- Don’t suffer in silence. Talk to a close friend, family member, or a trusted counselor about your feelings.
- Stop being a perfectionist. Settle for good enough.
- Practice different breathing techniques to relax your body and clear your head.
- Change the way you see a stressful situation. Ask yourself, “Is it really that bad?”
- Avoid whatever or whoever makes you feel stressed. If you don’t have a good idea what it is, write down everything whenever you’re feeling stressed. This could help you recognize your stress pattern.
- Fill your body with well-balanced meals to give you the nutrients and energy you need to tackle stressful situations.
- Take time to exercise daily. It doesn’t only release your feel-good hormones, a.k.a. endorphins, but it also serves as a distraction from daily worries.
- Silence your inner critics. Start and end your day by saying positive and empowering statements.
- Don’t let your day end without counting all your blessings.
Generally, a scalloped tongue is pretty harmless because it’s not an actual disease. It doesn’t require any medical attention because it’ll just go away on its own. However, if you have any concerns or your scalloped tongue bothers you too much and has not gone away, it’s best to consult with your doctor. Treating the underlying problem is important, though. Once your doctor has determined the exact cause, the next logical step is to treat it in order to get rid of your scalloped tongue.
Have you ever experienced a scalloped tongue before? How did you get rid of it? Don’t forget to share your tips and reactions by leaving a comment or two below. I’d love to hear them!