What’s unsettling is that older people are more likely to get cancer, which can cause symptoms very similar to TMJ disorder.

“TMJ disorders are more common in the age group 30-50 years, but it can certainly affect older people as well,” says Brijesh Chandwani, DMD, BDS, Diplomate, American Board of Orofacial Pain, with Connecticut & NY TMJ.

“A sudden onset of symptoms including trouble opening the jaw, jaw pain, headaches or mouth pain should be checked out with primary physician ASAP, as it could be a sign of something scary such as a tumor (benign or malignant), autoimmune condition (temporal arteritis), a neurological disorder or even a heart attack,” continues Dr. Chandwani.

“Presence of fever or chills or weakness could also mean a systemic medical illness.”

Older People and TMJ Disorder
“Two of the factors associated with TMJ disorders are general medical health [which declines as people get older] and wear of hard tissues in the jaw region (loss of teeth, arthritis, etc.),” says Dr. Chandwani.

“Medical conditions such as diabetes and HIV infection are associated with more occurrence of nerve pain in the jaw region.

“Facial pain due to trigeminal neuralgia tends to be very severe, electric shock-like and episodic.

“Patients suffering from trigeminal neuralgia often describe it as the worst possible pain they have ever experienced.

“Trigeminal neuralgia tends to occur mostly after age 50 and affects the quality of life of the sufferer in a big way.

“Trigeminal neuralgia and TMJ disorders are often mistaken for each other depending on experience and skill of the treating physician (or dentist), and treatment for each is quite different from each other.” More on trigeminal neuralgia.

Too old to get a benign form of TMJ symptoms?
Never assume this. And especially do not blow off any sudden-onset of the aforementioned symptoms; get prompt medical attention.

Dr. Chandwani has 10+ years of experience focusing on TMJ disorders and sleep disorders.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.