Why Your Teeth Fall Out in Your Dream

5 min read

Last Modified 19 October 2021 First Added 7 October 2021

By Liam Porter

The dream:

You frown.

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 draw in 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 and it 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.

Still, it’s only a dream – right?

Variations of the dream:

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, some will lose them in a highly specific way, they can rot or shatter, they can be yours or those of someone you know, but – as with many cross-cultural dreams (dreams which occur in many distinct cultures) – there are as many variations of the dream as there are dreamers.

Meaning(s) of the dream:

To coin a phrase itself a couple of thousand years old, there’s nothing new under the sun – dreams 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 – who 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 – even went as far as to lay out a specific manual as to the losses that might occur following a dream in which a tooth or teeth are lost.

As part of our research, we uncovered the following chart by The Appendix which applies meaning to each individual tooth!

chart showing teeth dream meanings

While it’s unlikely that dreams can offer glimpses of the future, the understanding of dreams is still a field of scientific study and theories of their usefulness range from threat simulation to the processing of emotions – both of which, while newly underpinned by science, are variations of traditional theories on dreaming.

The different takes on dreams about teeth falling out:

As it’s one of the most common dreams, there are many interpretations about the meaning. Often, it’s about losing something valuable. Other readings suggest anxiety, stress, or simply ageing are the reasons for having this kind of dream. Here’s a few of the more common beliefs around dreams where your teeth fall out.

1. Loss

While not prophetic, dreams of losing a tooth or teeth are often interpreted as indicative of grief and loss of something deeply important to a person who is literally (in the dream) and figuratively (while awake) losing a part of themselves.

2. Anxiety and stress

Whether acknowledged during daylight hours, dreams of tooth loss can be interpreted to indicate that a person’s suffering from intense stress or anxiety.

3. Disempowerment or loss of control

Here the teeth represent a more animalistic source of power and their loss can be interpreted as a feeling of powerlessness in the face of a challenge.

4. Ageing

Unsurprisingly, a common interpretation is that tooth loss in dreams represents a fear of growing old.

Answering the dream:

The follow up question to a dream interpretation is often ‘what should I do?’ and there’s no single answer to that. 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, 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.

Notable appearances in popular culture:

While tooth loss itself is often depicted in popular culture, predominately in horror films where it regularly relates to demonic possession and sickness, the mentions of tooth loss dreams in film, literature and music are either non-existent or rare enough that they’re not easily discoverable. As with many dream archetypes, however, the reason for this may be that the dream becomes the story more often than a story features a dream.

Like teeth falling out, dreaming of your hair falling out has similar meanings. Learn more about other anxiety-inducing dreams like dreaming about being chased, or being late

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