Dr. Zuniga is a Professor and holds the Robert V. Walker D.D.S Chair in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. He joined the faculty in January, 2006. He came to UTSW from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he served in the School of Dentistry as the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Graduate Program Director for 13 years and was the Co-Director of the Oral and Maxillofacial Pain and Neurosensory Disorders program. Dr. Zuniga is the chief of the Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in the Department of Surgery. The division is dedicated to the improvement of the oral, maxillofacial, dental and craniofacial health of our patients through research, service and education. Dr. Zuniga’s clinical interests are in temporomandibular disorders (TMD) and neurosensory disorders. He is an experienced trigeminal nerve microsurgeon and has c performed over 300 nerve repairs for a variety of clinical conditions affecting the trigeminal nerve of the oral and maxillofacial region. Over 60% of his practice is dedicated to treating chronic orofacial pain conditions, including TMD, trigeminal neuralgia, burning mouth syndrome, atypical odontalgia and atypical facial pain. He specializes in the surgical treatment of TMD and can provide services ranging from conservative non-surgical care to total joint reconstruction. He also has a clinical interest in benign pathology, dentoalveolar surgery and trauma of the oral and maxillofacial region. Dr. Zuniga’s major research interests are in chronic and acute orofacial pain and trigeminal neurosensory disorders. He has authored over 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts, abstracts and book chapters in these areas. He was awarded the 1998 Daniel Laskin award for Most Outstanding Publication in the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery,  the 2008 William J. Gies Award for Clinical Research in Journal Dental Research, and the 2012 William J. Gies Award In Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery for the Advancement of Dentistry. He has been the Principal Investigator or co-Investigator in 220 grants and contracts from federal, industry or foundation sources.  His interest in trigeminal neurosensory disorders involves understanding sensory and special sensory (i.e., taste) function and dysfunction in humans and their response to surgical and non-surgical (i.e., sensory retraining) treatments. He recently completed a multisite, randomized clinical trial conducted at the University of Texas Southwestern on the benefits of a new analgesic medication to treat moderate to severe pain.  New trials on the benefits of processed nerve allograft on reconstruction of jaw pathology is ongoing.  Dr. Zuniga is active locally, nationally and internationally in the specialty of oral and maxillofacial surgery. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery where he served 6 years on the Examination Committee. He serves on the Editorial Board of several journals and is an ad hoc reviewer for several journals in Neuroscience and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. He serves on several committees for the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons and is a voting member of the Dental Products Panel of the Medical Devices Advisory Committee for the Center for Devices and Radiological Health of the Food and Drug Administration.


Medical School
Tufts University School of Dental Medicine (1978)
Strong Mem Hosp Univ of Rochester (1979), Dentistry
Graduate School
University of Rochester (1985)
Strong Mem Hosp Univ of Rochester (1986), Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery
Other Post Graduate Training
University of Rochester (1986)

Specialty Areas

Clinical Interest

  • Amelogenesis Imperfecta
  • Ankylosing Arthritis (Site Other Than Spine)
  • Ankylosis Spondylitis
  • Articular Disc Disorder
  • Central Giant Cell Granuloma
  • Complete Dislocation of Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)
  • Complicated Tooth Fracture
  • Complication of Implant (Pain & Fibrosis)
  • Dentinogenesis Imperfecta
  • Dermoid Cyst
  • Epidermoid Cyst
  • Epstein's Pearl Cyst
  • Erythroplakia
  • Fissural Cysts of the Jaw
  • Focal Epithelial Hyperplasia
  • Frenectomy
  • Gingivectomy
  • Hypertrophic Oseoarthritis
  • Impacted Teeth in Mandible & Maxilla
  • Infection, Inflammation Reaction to Implant (Oral or Joint)
  • Injury to Trigeminal Nerve
  • Joint Crepitus
  • Juvenile Chronic Polyarthritis
  • Late Effect of Trauma on Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)
  • Leukoplakia of Oral Mucosa
  • Mass in Head & Neck Region Needing Biopsy for Diagnosis
  • Mucocoele
  • Nasoalveolar Cyst
  • Odontalgia (Atypical Odontalgia)
  • Odontogenesis Imperfecta
  • Odontogenic Dentigerous, Follicular & Keratocyst
  • Orbital Floor Blow-Out Closed
  • Orofacial Dystonia
  • Osteoarthritis (Localized or Primary)
  • Osteomyelitis of Maxilla & Mandible
  • Pathologic Fracture
  • Pathology of Hard & Soft Tissue - Head & Neck
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (Temporomandibular Joint)
  • Sequestrum of Maxilla & Mandible
  • Sialoadenitis & Sialolithiasis
  • Soft Tissue Trimming
  • Stomatitis
  • Subluxation of Temporomandibular Joint TMJ-Closed (Stage 1-4 Internal Derangement)
  • Supernumerary Teeth
  • Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)
  • Tooth Extraction & Pain
  • Torus Exostosis, Mandibularis & Palantius
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia
  • Trigeminal Sensory Peripheral Neuropathy
  • Unilateral Condylar Hyperplasia & Hypoplasia
  • Publications

    Featured Publications LegendFeatured Publications

    Research Summitt: At the forefront of innovation
    Cunningham L, Dodson T, Feinberg S, Le A, Wohlford M, Zuniga J Journal Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery 2008 66 215-222
    The analgesic safety and efficacy of intra-articular morphine and mepivacaine following termporomandibular joint arthroplasty
    Zuniga JR, Ibanez C, Kozacko M Journal Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery 2007 65 1477-1485
    Clinical characteristics of trigeminal nerve injury referrals to a university-based specialist center
    Tay A, Zuniga JR Int Journal Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery 2007 36 922-927
    Effect of facial sensory retraining on sensory thresholds
    Essick G, Phillips C, Zuniga JR Journal Dental Research 2007 86 571-575

    Honors & Awards

    • William J. Gies Award in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery for the Advancement of Dentistry
      merit award in oral and maxillofacial surgery (2012)
    • William J. Gies Award for Clinical Research
      annual award for publication recognition in Journal of Dental Research (2008)
    • US FDA Advisory Committee Service Award
      distinguished service recognition (2006)
    • Oral Maxillofacial Surgery Foundation Research Recognition Award
      merit in oral and maxillofacial surgery research (2002)
    • Daniel M. Laskin Award for Most Outstanding Publication
      annual award for publication recognition (1998)
    • Buonocore Research Award
      merit in oral and maxillofacial surgery research (1985)