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What is the TMJ?

The temporomandibular joint connects the lower jaw, called the mandible, to the bone at the side of the head—the temporal bone. If you place your fingers just in front of your ears and open your mouth, you can feel the joints. Because these joints are flexible, the jaw can move smoothly up and down and side to side, enabling us to talk, chew and yawn. Muscles attached to and surrounding the jaw joint control its position and movement.


When we open our mouths, the rounded ends of the lower jaw, called condyles, glide along the joint socket of the temporal bone. The condyles slide back to their original position when we close our mouths. To keep this motion smooth, a soft disc lies between the condyle and the temporal bone. This disc absorbs shocks to the jaw joint from chewing and other movements.

The temporomandibular joint is different from the body’s other joints. The combination of hinge and sliding motions makes this joint among the most complicated in the body. Also, the tissues that make up the temporomandibular joint differ from other load-bearing joints, like the knee or hip. Because of its complex movement and unique makeup, the jaw joint and its controlling muscles can pose a tremendous challenge to both patients and health care providers when problems arise.

TMJ Disorders


Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders, commonly called "TMJ," are a group of conditions that cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and the muscles that control jaw movement. We don’t know for certain how many people have TMJ disorders, but some estimates suggest that over 10 million Americans are affected. The condition appears to be more common in women than men.

For most people, pain in the area of the jaw joint or muscles does not signal a serious problem. Generally, discomfort from these conditions is occasional and temporary, often occurring in cycles. The pain eventually goes away with little or no treatment. Some people, however, develop significant, long-term symptoms. 

Disorders of the jaw joint and chewing muscles and how people respond to them vary widely. Researchers generally agree that the conditions fall into three main categories:

  • Myofascial pain involves discomfort or pain in the muscles that control jaw function.

  • Internal derangement of the joint involves a displaced disc, dislocated jaw, or injury to the condyle.

  • Arthritis refers to a group of degenerative/inflammatory joint disorders that can affect the temporomandibular joint.

A person may have one or more of these conditions at the same time. Some people have other health problems that co-exist with TMJ disorders, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, sleep disturbances or fibromyalgia. These disorders share some common symptoms, which suggests that they may share similar underlying mechanisms of disease. However, it is not known whether they have a common cause.

How jaw joint and muscle disorders progress is not clear. Symptoms worsen and ease over time. Most people have relatively mild forms of the disorder. Their symptoms improve significantly, or disappear spontaneously, within weeks or months. For others, the condition causes long-term, persistent and debilitating pain.

Questions About TMJ Treatment?

If you have questions about our TMJ procedures please contact TMJ specialist Dr. Amato.  

Call Today: 973-736-1714

About Our Program

Our approach to TMJ treatment has been developed over the past 40 years.  With a combined 90 years of experience, our team has treated many thousands of patients and have performed over a thousand corrective jaw and TMJ surgeries. In addition, our doctors comprise a major part of the The New Jersey Institute for Craniofacial Surgery team at Barnabas Health / Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center. As a result of our experience, we understand the complexities of the temporomandibular joint as well as the pain and frustration associated with ineffective treatments. We are dedicated to providing long term relief for our patients so that they can return to their busy lives.


Our multi-dicipline team of physicians, surgeons, and dentists provides a unique approach to the diagnosis and treatment of TMJ. The experience we have gained through the treatment of children and adults with craniofacial syndromes, cleft lip & palate, trauma, and facial growth deformities has provided us with a unique understanding of the complex temporomandibular joint and its relationship with the jaws, teeth, muscles, and ligaments of the face.  We have culminated this knowledge into our TMJ PROGRAM and it's protocols.  Our comprehensive knowledge of the TMJ as well as TMJ related medical and dental issues allows us to provide more predictable results for our patients.   We believe that conservative and minimally invasive treatment is always the best approach if possible and will always begin with such modalities.



Elizabeth, NJ

I could not have asked for a better team to deal with my case

I have been seen in the office for last 9 years for various maxillofacial surgeries and I must say, I could not have asked for a better team to deal with my case. Along with a great front desk, the insurance coordinator has been very helpful but most important, the doctors have been fabulous. I have enjoyed every step of my long recovery. Dr Amato has been very clear, assuring and precise as to every treatment plan. He’s allowed me the appropriate time to ask questions and his professional attitude allows me the sense of comfort with all procedures. His great expertise makes him on point as to what to expect afterwards.

So very grateful for an amazing team to take part of my son's journey

Dr. Amato and staff are a pleasure to know. Professional and very friendly. My son is very pleased and content with the results after treatment and surgery. So very grateful for an amazing team to take part of my son's journey, thank you all for the kindness and professionalism!

Thank you Dr. Amato for your meticulous work!

Dr. Amato is wonderful and his staff is kind and caring. Three weeks ago I had a small cyst removed near my eye. Today there is virtually no scar or sign it ever existed. Thank you Dr. Amato for your meticulous work!

Jamie, NJ

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Conveniently located in West Orange, NJ

The Amato Center has an excellent location in New Jersey, located in the penthouse suite of a luxury physician building with panoramic views of the city.

Call Today: 973-736-1714

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