Every dental professional should know about Lyme disease


This dentist personal experience with a his patient opened his eyes to the need to spread the word on Lyme disease symptoms.

While I too have Lyme disease, until reading this article I was complete unaware of the existence of symptoms that can occur in or around the month. As the article shares, the “patient booked an urgent appointment with her dentist. A painful toothache had woken her the night before. Her symptoms also included intense pain in her jaw, temple, and neck, accompanied by a tingling on her lower left lip and left side of her tongue. She also experienced the feeling of sweats and chills during the night and an odd sensation in her shoulder and left arm.

As it turns out neither her dentist or the endodontist she saw could find any dental abnormalities.” Then a few days later, when she was lucky enough to get the Lyme bullseye her family doctor knew what was up.

Imagine if she had not gotten the bullseye and when on being untreated.

Early detection and treatment are important if more serious conditions, such as arthritis, nervous system problems, and carditis, which affects the heart’s electrical system, are to be prevented.

As the dentist shared, “Pain in the orofacial area is not a rare presentation of Lyme disease,”… “Although one of the differential diagnoses the endodontist put forward was trigeminal neuralgia, which is one of the presentations of Lyme disease, a definitive diagnosis of the illness is difficult without a visible bite site or rash.”

Think about the number of people who have simply been diagnosed with TMJ. They may go misdiagnosed and treated because their dental professionals were unable to connect the other symptom described by the patient to determine the proper testing which could rule out or confirm a Lyme disease diagnosis.

Earlier Detection is Critical in All Forms of Disease Treatment

Back when I was an employee benefits manager, I would frequently discuss the importance of regular dental examination as easy way to keep people focused on general health by way of engagement with the dental profession. Routine mouth examination is a common and typically 100% Insurance covered prevention activity. The hygienist and dentist are uniquely positions to not only review the condition of their patience’s mouth and teeth, they can easily ask a few general health questions to help identify other serious health risks. Such as understanding the symptoms of Lyme disease.

Here is a good example, “Oral health professionals can recognize the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease and make referrals to primary care physicians. They are particularly well suited for this because the Lyme disease symptoms of head and neck pain may motivate patients to seek dental treatment. Clinicians need to be thorough when evaluating symptoms. A precise and comprehensive history of present illness, past medical history, and current social history must be acquired. The most common nondental orofacial pain condition associated with Lyme disease is a temporomandibular disorder (TMD), which may present as limitations in opening of the mouth, headache, facial pain, and joint clicking or popping.”

So spread the word. Learn the symptoms to what could be causing even more health challenges.

Source and Inspiration

Why dental professionals should know about the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease“, Cheryl Bell, 2021.

Red Flags“. Julie A. Tracy, BS, RDH

The Manifestations of Lyme Disease“, Olga Gnatovych, RDH, BA and Victoria Benvenuto, RDH, EdM, 2020.

Lyme Disease and the Dental Connection“, Dr. Mirkal.

Dentists can help fight against Tick Borne diseases“, David Burger, 2017.

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