The temporomandibular joints (TMJs) and related structures play an essential role in mastication (chewing). The act of chewing is resultant from coordinated neuromuscular interaction between cranial nerves of the central nervous system, muscles of mastication, tongue, teeth, and the paired TMJs. The TMJ complex is also involved to some degree in speaking and swallowing.
During mastication, joint contact/compression occurs along the slope of the articular eminence due to translational/sliding movement of the joint, not at the concave roof of the mandibular fossa (common misconception).
Two accessory TMJ ligaments (sphenomandibular and stylomandibular) help suspend the mandible from the skull. They are located medial to the joint and oriented in an anterior and inferior direction from the skull base ().