Does your tongue look wavier than other people's tongues? Do you notice little indentations around the edge of it? A wavy tongue is generally a harmless medical condition. But what exactly causes it? And can you get rid of it?
In this article, we explain what a wavy tongue is, why it happens, and how you can fix it.
What Is a Wavy Tongue?
First off, what exactly do we mean by a "wavy tongue"? A wavy tongue refers to a tongue that has little waves, ripples, or indentations around the edge of it, right where it hits your teeth. These indentations are caused by the tongue's pushing up against the teeth and therefore often look like teeth marks.
There are many names for a wavy tongue, including crenated tongue, crenulated tongue, scalloped tongue, lingua indentata, and pie crust tongue (since the ripples can look like the edge of a pie crust).
In general, there is no pain associated with this condition, though the lining of your mouth (where your tongue touches) or your tongue itself might turn red and become more sensitive due to friction.
Wavy tongue edges are typically harmless but can indicate an underlying medical condition. Therefore, if you think you have a wavy or swollen tongue, it's best to schedule a visit with your doctor.
What Causes a Wavy Tongue?
Many underlying medical conditions can cause wavy tongue edges.
One of the most common causes of a wavy tongue is a swollen tongue, or glossitis. The swelling causes your tongue to get bigger and push against your teeth (thereby producing the ripple effect).
Many things—some more harmless than others—can contribute to tongue swelling. Common causes include allergies, medication side effects, direct injury to the tongue, and parafunctional habits (e.g., teeth clenching, tongue thrusting, etc.).
A wavy or swollen tongue can also be a symptom of the following medical conditions:
- Sleep apnea
- Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ, TMD)
- Genetic conditions, including Down syndrome and Apert syndrome
Can You Fix a Wavy Tongue?
A wavy tongue is a symptom of a medical condition and not a condition itself. Therefore, to fix a wavy tongue, you must first treat the underlying medical condition that's causing you to have a wavy tongue.
To figure out what's causing the condition, make an appointment to see your doctor. Before you go, though, take note of any additional symptoms you might have as well as when you first noticed your wavy tongue edges.
Treatment depends on what's causing your wavy tongue. For example, if the cause is allergies, you'll most likely need to take allergy medications to get your allergies under control. If, on the other hand, the cause is a genetic condition, you might have to have surgery to correct tongue swelling.
Ultimately, if you think you have a wavy tongue but aren't sure what's causing it, it's best to talk with your doctor to get a diagnosis and find an appropriate treatment path that'll work for you.
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Hannah received her MA in Japanese Studies from the University of Michigan and holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California. From 2013 to 2015, she taught English in Japan via the JET Program. She is passionate about education, writing, and travel.