On topic with Dr. Dill: 

how a tick bite can harm your smile

Lyme disease can result in problems for your oral and overall health. It's contracted from bacteria passed on through a bite from a black-legged or deer tick that was infected after feeding on a deer, bird or mouse. Some ticks are so tiny — about the size of a poppy seed — that you may not realize you’ve been bitten.

Oral symptoms of Lyme disease

Early signs of Lyme disease can potentially be detected in your mouth. As a result, your dentist may be the first person to recognize symptoms, including:

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    Pain in your temporomandibular joints (TMJ), which connect your jawbones to your skull

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    Toothaches not caused by decay or infection

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    Facial weakness or paralysis, usually on one side of the face

Additional symptoms of Lyme disease

The majority of people (70%-80%) with Lyme disease develop a rash at the site of the tick bite.1 This occurs as early as three days or as late as 30 days after being bitten. The rash may get bigger and take on the appearance of a target or bull’s-eye.

Other potential symptoms include fever, chills, fatigue, achy joints and headaches. The longer the disease goes untreated, the more likely serious symptoms, such as arthritis, mental fogginess and numb limbs, will develop.

How to prevent tick bites

While ticks are active all year, they can be especially troublesome during warmer weather and in the Northeast and North Central parts of the U.S. Try to avoid grassy, brushy or wooded areas, but if you do venture in or near them:

Spray yourself, your clothes and gear with insect repellent.

Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when possible.

Walk in the center of trails.

Check yourself, your pets and gear for ticks after exiting.

Change clothes and take a shower upon returning indoors.



Feel more secure this season. Read our article for additional spring safety tips.

If you find a tick bite, or have symptoms of Lyme disease see your physician immediately. By using antibiotics early, most people with Lyme disease can be treated successfully.

1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Meet Delta Dental’s Vice President of Dental Science and Network Strategy, Joseph Dill, DDS. With more than 30 years of experience in the dental field, including eight in private practice and 16 in dental insurance, Dr. Dill provides expert insights and helpful advice to keep you smiling bright.

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