Jaw Pain? Tick It Off the List
With experts reporting an increase in some tick-borne diseases, don't be surprised when your dentist asks about your history of tick bites if you mention face or jaw pain.
New Jersey Dental School's University of Medicine and Dentistry published a study suggesting that symptoms from Lyme disease include facial pain that can mimic dental conditions such as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain. The study stated that "patients with complaints of vague, non specific dental, facial or head pain, who present with a multisystemic, multitreatment history, are suspect."
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) describe Lyme disease symptoms as including fever, headache, fatigue and a characteristic skin rash. The CDC states that that "left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system." This is how the tick bite symptoms can begin to mimic issues typically associated with oral health conditions.
The CDC states that most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics. Prevention of Lyme disease by avoiding tick bites if the best approach, of course. The CDC recommends that you learn where to expect ticks, use insect repellent in those areas, perform tick checks after being outdoors, remove ticks quickly and correctly, and be alert for fever or rash. More information can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/features/lymedisease/index.html.
If you have been in an area where tick exposure was possible, and you are visiting your dentist while experiencing facial pain, be sure to let the dentist know. This is also important when you are planning to replace missing teeth: be sure to find and discuss possible tick exposure with an AAID credentialed implant dentist.