On topic with Dr. Dill: 

How a tick bite can harm your smile

Lyme disease can cause serious problems for both your oral and overall health. It’s contracted from bacteria passed on through a bite from a blacklegged tick (also known as a deer tick) that was infected after feeding on an infected deer, bird or mouse. Some ticks are so tiny — about the size of a poppy seed — that you may get bitten and not even realize it.

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), the joints that connect your jawbone to your skull

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    Toothaches that aren’t 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 with Lyme disease (70-80%) develop a rash at the site of the tick bite, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This rash can develop as early as three days or as late as 30 days after being bitten. The rash may get bigger over time and take on the appearance of a target or bull’s-eye.

You may experience fever, chills, fatigue, achy joints, headaches and additional health issues. Other potential symptoms — including arthritis, mental fogginess and numbness in the limbs — can become more serious the longer the disease goes untreated.

How you can 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 the trail.

Check yourself, your pets and gear for ticks when you’re done with your hike.

Change clothes and take a shower upon returning indoors.




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 and avoid the more serious issues the disease can cause.


Meet Joseph Dill, DDS, Delta Dental’s Vice President of Dental Science and Network Strategy. 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.