Scalloped tongue is a tongue-shaped anomaly, referring to the tongue edge of the visible traces of the teeth, also known as Indian tongue. When the borders of the tongue has marks like indentations is called scalloped tongue.
One of the first clinical skills learned by medical students is the importance of asking the patient to "put out your tongue, please," recognizing that observing the tongue may frequently provide clues to a patient's overall well being. Even young children at play can be seen asking playmates to "say, aaah," mimicking their experiences of doctor visits where clearly much emphasis is placed on careful attention to this small organ.
The tongue, despite its small size, has been endowed with numerous powers throughout the centuries. As the primary tool of speech, the tongue has been blamed for dividing nations, yet also applauded for engendering great love, and for the ability to create and inspire. Torturers of old also appreciated the fundamental role of this organ and would frequently cut out the tongues of perceived offenders!
Physicians, too, have recognized the importance of the tongue in their practice of medicine. Scrutiny of the tongue may provide information about a patient's state of health or disease; hence, oral examination has assumed a central role in the clinical and dermatological examination.
Tongue scalloping (marks of teeth on the borders) is a useful clinical indicator of sleep pathology and its presence should prompt the physician to inquire about snoring history. see full study.
The tongue has many relationships and connections in the body,; when scalloped could be signs of many medical conditions like spleen deficiency, blood deficiency, B12 deficiency, arthritis, sinus or digestive problems. Recent studies show that 89% of people with tongue scalloping suffer obstructive sleep apnea. Due to the high incidence, now is being considered as a marker for sleep apnea.
Scalloped tongue is also present in many patients with small dental arches or/and large tongue pressing on the teeth, which are typical conditions of patients that suffer from TMJ dysfunction and related craniofacial pain. Like teeth grinding and clenching, tongue scalloping use to be related to stress, but now we know that is just one way for the protective body's mechanism to move the jaw forward as an effort to open the airway so the person can breath.
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