Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the letter submitted by the American Society of Temporomandibular Joint Surgeons (ASTMJS) concerning my recently published paper ‘A new surgical classification for temporomandibular joint disorders’, which appeared in the February issue of this Journal. The scathing criticisms contained in the letter make me wonder whether my paper highlights the glaringly obvious fact that, as a professional society, the ASTMJS have yet to provide us with their own classification. Rather than repeat what I have already said in my paper, I urge all readers to refer back to my original article and judge for themselves the new classification that I have proposed. In writing the paper, my intention was to kick-start the process of developing a suitable and practical surgical TMJ classification that satisfies the requirements for professional communication and data collection for research and community health programmes. If we are to move forward with the development of a new surgical TMJ classification, it is essential that the ensuing debate is constructive rather than adversarial.