Headaches can be very hard to treat because it’s so difficult to link them to their true causes. That’s where a headache diary can be very helpful. It can link causes to your headache, but it isn’t always easy to link the two. Sometimes an apparent cause masks a true cause.

This can happen with TMJ headaches, which might actually seem to be brought on by other things. If you think your headaches are caused by any or all of the following, it might actually be that your ear or jaw is the true cause of headaches.

woman with a TMJ headache sits on her couch holding her head


Foods are among the most commonly cited migraine triggers. They can cause migraines, but they can also treat them, and if certain foods seem to be related to your migraines, you can try giving them up and seeing if it reduces your headaches.

Although certain foods might be correlated with your headaches, they might not actually be causing them. If TMJ is the true cause of your headaches, certain foods might aggravate your TMJ and trigger the headache. For example, if certain foods require a lot of chewing or force you to open your mouth wide, they can trigger TMJ-related headaches.

Look at what seems to be the common element in foods related to your headaches. If they are chemically similar, the foods are more likely to be the cause. But if they’re mechanically similar (e.g. tough or large), consider TMJ.


Many people report that stress causes their headaches. But it may not be the stress, per se. There are many stress-related behaviors that can actually be triggering your headaches. For example, people often neglect themselves when they’re stressed. They may not get enough sleep. They may forget to drink enough water. They may not eat enough.

Another common behavior when stressed is jaw clenching. Jaw clenching can be caused by TMJ or can aggravate TMJ, which turns the clenching behavior into headaches.


Exercise can definitely cause headaches. When your blood is pumping fast, it can exacerbate circulatory irregularities, contributing to either excess blood in the brain or hypoxia. Exercise can also dehydrate you.

But exercise can also trigger TMJ headaches. Your jaw is an essential part of your body’s stability system. Your jaw clenches to help stabilize your body’s core. If your jaw isn’t balanced, it can require excessive muscle force, which leads to sore muscles, jaw tension, and headaches.


Some people find that spending time with large crowds of people gives them a headache. They might attribute it to social anxiety, or maybe the fact that they tend to drink alcohol when socializing.

But headaches related to socializing could be caused by TMJ. Spending more time than usual talking and maintaining a smile can put stress on your muscles, worsened if your jaw is out of balance. And, of course, it can mediate stress-related headaches if you have social anxiety and clench your jaw as well.

Find the True Cause of Your Headaches

When your headache treatments are working, maybe it’s not that the treatment doesn’t work–maybe it’s just not right for your headache. Finding the true cause of your headache can help you get the right treatment for you.

Consider signs that TMJ might be causing your headache. If you think that it is, please call (910) 392-6060 today for an appointment with Wilmington, NC TMJ dentist Dr. Michael Kuzma at Kuzma Advanced Dentistry.