The human tongue is kind of a mystery to most of us. We may just see as a tool for tasting things, but it’s one of the most versatile organs in the body. We use it to speak, sing, chew, swallow, and even to breathe. The problems that occur with the tongue can be rather odd. Take scalloped tongue or wavy tongue. Your tongue becomes … well … wavy. But what does that mean? What are scalloped tongue causes? What are scalloped tongue symptoms? Is there a particular scalloped tongue treatment? We will delve into all of this and more. If you have noticed that your tongue is getting a little wavy around its rim, you may want to keep reading ahead. You may be surprised at all that encompasses a scalloped tongue.
What Does a Scalloped Tongue (Wavy Tongue) Mean? What Are the Symptoms?
So, you have woken up with wavy tongue, meaning along the lateral borders of your tongue, you have wavelike indentations. What does a scalloped tongue mean for your health? Well, by itself, the scalloped tongue doesn’t mean very much, as it is not a disease or disorder. It is simply a change in the physical appearance. However, the pattern of these waves themselves will seem familiar (we’ll come back to that). You may notice that your tongue also appears to be larger, and possibly inflamed, but in terms of size alone, the wavy tongue is of no harm. It’s the underlying cause of the scalloped tongue that is of greater importance.
What Are the Causes of Scalloped Tongue (Wavy Tongue)?
What causes a scalloped tongue? Your tongue may be feeling slightly swollen, but what actually causes the scalloping? The answer is somewhat two-fold. The first part is pretty easy to explain. Remember how we mentioned that the wave pattern will probably look familiar? That’s because it’s your teeth making the indentation. Your tongue has swelled for some reason, and is now pressing against your teeth, leaving a depression of sorts. The second part of the equation can be a little more complicated.
Your tongue is pressing against your teeth because it’s grown larger. But, what has caused your tongue to get big enough that your teeth have left imprints in it? The answer to that question is a number of things, which can include:
1. Swollen Tongue
Your tongue just could be swollen. This could be due to injury or a disease that is causing your tongue to retain liquid. It could also be due to an allergic reaction.
2. Vitamin Deficiency
Some vitamin deficiencies such as a shortage of vitamin B12 can cause the tongue to become swollen.
3. Thyroid Issues
If your thyroid is under producing hormones, it could prevent your body from absorbing vitamins. This, in turn, can cause the tongue to swell.
4. Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ)
TMJ can cause changes to your jaw and bite, which can lead to problems with your tongue. Your tongue can become enlarged and press against your teeth.
Anxiety can manifest itself in a number of ways, including some physical symptoms. One of those symptoms can be scalloped tongue, which is usually due to severe jaw clenching.
6. Sleep Apnea
In a chicken-or-the-egg situation, sleep apnea (pauses in breathing during sleep) might be the cause of your scalloped tongue; at the same time, the swelling that causes a scalloped tongue may block your breathing during sleep, resulting in sleep apnea.
The above causes can either produce your scalloped tongue or the issue that leads to scalloped tongue. Now that you’ve examined the causes, you can look for a suitable treatment to help get rid of your predicament.
Scalloped Tongue (Wavy Tongue) Treatments
Can your wavy tongue be treated? Is there any way to take your tongue down a few notches and get rid of those waves? Luckily, there is. For the most part, you are looking to treat the cause. If it’s anxiety that is causing your scalloped tongue and you manage to curb it, then the scalloped tongue should slowly disappear. Here are some treatments that you may have to consider given your particular issue.
1. Swollen Tongue
If your swollen tongue is due to an allergic reaction, one of your best bets for relief may be an antihistamine. If the reaction is a mild one, taking an antihistamine—along with avoiding the allergen that caused it in the first place—can help the tongue get back to its normal size and shape. If it’s due to an injury, just allow the injury to heal.
Anxiety is harder to resolve, but is often treated with a form psychotherapy, medication, or both. If treatment begins to relax the patient and their anxiety is relieved, the scalloped tongue should fade and eventually disappear.
3. Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is treated in a few different ways, but most commonly with the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. A CPAP helps your breathing and provides oxygen to your body during sleep. You can also change certain aspects of your lifestyle to help with sleep apnea. Quitting smoking, losing weight, and sleeping on your side could all help alleviate sleep apnea symptoms.
4. Thyroid Issues
These issues can be often solved with a combination of synthetic hormones and a change of diet to include more magnesium and iodine food sources.
Of course, the first step for any of these treatments is to go see your doctor and get a proper diagnosis of what your issues are. But, how do you know when to go see the doctor?
When to See a Doctor
It is important to know when you should go see a doctor about your issue. Sometimes, a scalloped tongue will fix itself. For example, if the cause is a mild allergic reaction, it may just go away on its own upon avoiding the allergen. But, there are a few circumstances that definitely warrant a visit to your doctor’s office.
• The swelling of the tongue begins to block your airways, making it difficult to breathe, especially while sleeping
• The swelling grows abnormally large
• Normal activities like eating, chewing, and speaking cause problems
• Scalloped tongue lasts 10 days or more
These are distinct issues that you shouldn’t let progress. But it should also be noted that, anytime you feel that you should talk to a doctor, talk to your doctor. At the very least, they will tell you there is nothing to worry about. At the very most, you may catch your scalloped tongue early, treat it early, and get rid of it quickly.
Scalloped Tongue Should Be Addressed
What is scalloped tongue? It’s not only your tongue doing something interesting; it may also signal that something more is going on in your mouth that should be examined as quickly as possible. If your tongue is wavy for just a day or two, it likely means that the underlying issue has quickly passed. But if it starts to swell to the point that it’s affecting your breathing, eating, and other day-to-day activities, then you should take care of it before a severe condition takes root that may be harder to deal with.
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