Why Your Teeth Fall Out in Your Dream
5 min read
Last Modified 15 November 2023 First Added 7 October 2021
There’s an odd feeling in your mouth that causes a sense of rising panic.
Swallowing hard, you stand and make your way with growing trepidation to the bathroom, where you lean on the sink. You take a deep breath and raise your head to look in the mirror. You slowly open your mouth and reach in. To your horror, you easily dislodge a tooth, which clatters into the basin, rattling around.
Against your instincts, sometimes against every fibre of your being, you reach in again.
Another tooth lands noisily with the first.
Soon, you’re frantically pulling at tooth after tooth, your eyes widening, your heart thumping in your chest as one after another pulls free.
Then, you wake up and, with a sigh of relief, check to find your teeth are all in check.
Still, it’s only a dream – right?
Variations of this particular dream tend to be limited to the manner and number of teeth the dreamer loses. Some people will lose a single tooth, whilst others will lose them in a particular way. They can rot, shatter or simply fall out. They can be your teeth or those of someone you know, but – as with many cross-cultural dreams – vivid dreams about losing teeth come in many different forms. But is there a meaning to this type of dream?
To use a phrase a couple of thousand years old, there’s nothing new under the sun. Having a dream of teeth falling out can actually be documented as far back as Artemidorus’ Oneirocritica (The Interpretation of Dreams, written in the second century AD). However, while the dream itself dates back at least that far, the interpretation of it has changed significantly.
Artemidorus, for example, believed that Oneiromancy (the practise of using dreams to foretell the future) could be treated as a science, a belief common at the time and even mentioned in the Talmud. They even went as far as to lay out a specific manual about the losses that might occur following dreaming of losing teeth.
As part of our research, we uncovered the following chart in The Appendix, which applies meaning to each tooth!
While it’s unlikely that dreams can offer glimpses of the future, there is evidence to suggest that dreams can be a hidden sign of physiological distress.
Psychologists Naama Rozen and Nirit Soffer-Dudek wanted to uncover why so many people dream about teeth. Their sample of 120 students uncovered a correlation between dreams about losing teeth and teeth irritation. Students who reported that their teeth felt tender after waking also had dreams about their teeth falling out. The sample was also asked to assess other common dreams, such as falling, but there was no correlation between these dreams and teeth tension.
This evidence supports the theory that physiological stimuli and dream production are linked. However, the sample was very small to confirm the correlation, and many theories still exist for having teeth dreams.
As it’s one of the most common dreams, there are many interpretations of the dream. Often, dreaming about teeth falling out is about losing something valuable. Other readings suggest anxiety, stress, or simply ageing are the reasons for having this kind of dream. Here are a few common beliefs about dreams where your teeth fall out…
Whether acknowledged during daylight hours, dreams of tooth loss can indicate a person’s suffering from intense stress or anxiety.
The follow-up question to a dream interpretation is often ‘What should I do?’ and there’s no single answer. While we can leave it to the ages to determine whether or not we can learn from our dreams, predict with them or tackle Leonardo DiCaprio in them, one thing it’s safe to say is that they are an invitation to self-analysis.
Whether we’re tackling complex emotions, facing fears, grieving losses, or suffering from tooth pain, a repeated or particularly vivid dream that troubles you while waking should be examined – and there are worse things to do than to think of them in the knowledge of thousands of years of dream analysis. Have you experienced a loss? Are you anxious or feeling powerless? Deal with those emotions – whether through therapy or meditation, face up to the issue and overcome it.