It is actually very common to have a scalloped tongue with hypothyroidism, and having had it years before being diagnosed, too.
I myself have one, and have always thought it was a bit odd, as I didn’t notice anyone else with one, but my dentist told me that my tongue was scalloped due to grinding and clenching my teeth at night. Being a natural worrier, I put it down to that, too, until I came across an article about it.
I’m going to cover some things we know about it, below.
Dr. Wiggy has said: “Sometimes the tongue gets too big for the mouth and actually pushes up against the sides of the teeth and that can suggest the tongue is too large because there are too many toxins. A lot of times that is from having low thyroid.”
This push up against the teeth over a long time causes it to become scalloped. My dentist wrongly assumed that my scalloped tongue was from grinding my teeth at night!
Toxins can affect thyroid function by a) blocking cell receptors so thyroid hormones can’t do their job probably, and b) there’s evidence that toxins can damage the thyroid gland directly. This damage makes the thyroid less effective and more prone to disease and underactivity. I’ve covered this in more detail here.
So, we may need to look at detoxifying to resolve an enlarged tongue. As mentioned here, you can help to detoxify your body by drinking at least two litres of water a day, avoiding things that cause inflammation or are sensitivities e.g. gluten and food sensitivities, removing caffeine from your lifestyle, avoiding goitrogens and try to sweat toxins out on a daily basis. If you don’t do this a lot normally, try physical exercise, hot baths (detox baths with a cup of Epson Salts to draw out toxins) and saunas. If we don’t sweat enough, we don’t get rid of enough toxins.
You should address any constipation or diarrhoea, and be sure to be going to the loo regularly to be flushing toxins out your body that way, too. Many sources also say to avoid fluoride, so drink water not containing this, where possible. Fluoride is also seen as a toxin.
Ensuring you have enough iodine in your diet may also help a scalloped/enlarged tongue, as it’s often low in thyroid patients. However, supplementing this is controversial.
Another big cause for a scalloped tongue, can be low or deficient B12 levels, which is pretty common in hypothyroid patients. As explained by livestrong;
Folate and vitamin B-12 are both B vitamins. When you’re deficient in either of these vitamins, your body produces abnormally large red blood cells that are unable to function properly, leading to what is known as megaloblastic anemia. A deficiency in either nutrient causes similar symptoms and may affect the health of your tongue, leading to swelling and alteration in shape.
Getting your levels tested and ensuring that they are optimal, and not just ‘in range’ could be crucial to not only solving a scalloped tongue, but also on-going fatigue and mental health issues such as depression.
Dr. Skinner mentioned in his book Diagnosis and Management of Hypothyroidism that an enlarged tongue can even be uncomfortable, cause slurring of the speech and even voice change. He attributed it to the chronicity of the hypothyroidism in that patient.
Also worth knowing is that a white-coated tongue could be an indication of a yeast (candida) overgrowth. Candida is a fungus that lives in your mouth and intestines and its job is to help the digestion and absorption of nutrients. However, an overgrowth can occur, which is pretty common in Hashimoto’s patients especially and can lead to the breakdown of the intestine walls.
The tongue is an important indication of your overall health and you need to pay attention to it.
I feel so stupid for missing it all these years when I knew my tongue didn’t look right!
You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given, but more reading and references can also be found at:
Written by Rachel, The Invisible Hypothyroidism
Rachel is a Thyroid Patient Advocate and Expert with Six 2018 WEGO Health Award Nominations. She is a highly ranked writer appearing in the Top Hypothyroidism Websites and Top Thyroid Websites 2018. Currently studying for relevant qualifications and certificates in Life Coaching, Diet and Nutrition, Reflexology and more, she has worked with The National Academy of Hypothyroidism, The BBC, The Mighty, Dr. Hedberg, Thyroid UK and ThyroidChange, to name just a few. She is well recognised as a trusted and useful contributor to the thyroid community.