- Dreams about your teeth falling out could mean you're feeling out of place or insecure.
- But not all teeth falling out dreams are negative. Some could be due to a major life transition.
- Not all dreams have to mean something and you can decide how you want to interpret them.
Whether you're dreaming about losing one tooth, all of them, or your teeth breaking or rotting, dreams of your teeth falling out is really the stuff of nightmares.
But, in case it's reassuring, you're not the only one with these disturbing dreams. One 2018 study found that 39% of undergraduate students had experienced at least one dream about losing their teeth.
"As a dentist, I have patients who ask me about this dream a lot. Dreams about teeth falling out are so common that there's even a name for them: tooth loss anxiety dreams," says Dr. Katrina Zhao, Principal Dentist and Managing Director at Midas Dental.
But why do we dream about weird stuff like teeth falling out in the first place? Zhao suggests that dreams are a way for our brains to work through problems or anxieties we might be experiencing during the day, and that these anxieties may not have to do with teeth at all.
Here are some examples of what your dream about losing teeth could mean.
1. Underlying feelings of insecurity
If your dream involves feeling shame or anxiety after your teeth fall out, this could mean you're struggling with feelings of insecurity, perhaps from your smile or teeth, in your daily life.
"Sometimes we do not allow ourselves to feel our insecurity or anxiety because we are required to be 'strong'. Our subconscious mind will find ways to bring these feelings to the surface through a metaphor such as a dream," says Valentina Dragomir, psychotherapist and founder of PsihoSensus Academy and PsihoSensus Therapy.
2. Major life transitions
Does your dream involve teeth coming out with just a slight touch? This could represent a more uplifting message:
"Losing teeth in a dream could be a sign that you are entering a new phase of life and leaving old parts of yourself behind," Dragomir says.
This idea stems from 20th century psychologist Carl Jung who suggested that losing your teeth can indicate a metaphorical rebirth happening in your life.
According to Jung, losing teeth would be a painful experience in real life, not unlike a metamorphosis you might experience when you close one chapter of your life and open a new one.
3. Feeling inferior or powerless
Having missing teeth in real life is often associated with a lower quality of life as well as low self-esteem and poor emotional well-being.
Therefore, dreams about losing teeth may suggest that you're feeling inferior about a certain aspect of your life, like if you're unprepared for a rapidly approaching performance, presentation, or test, Zhao says.
Another possible explanation could be that you're feeling powerless: "Teeth falling out in a dream could be a metaphor for feeling powerless or out of control in some situation because losing teeth is a natural process that cannot be stopped or controlled," Dragomir says.
4. Feeling out of place
Are your teeth crowding together in your dream, being pushed and crammed and leaving you uncomfortable, until they eventually fall out? In that case, you might be feeling equally out of place or uncomfortable in real life.
"Dreams about losing teeth due to crowding could signify that you feel estranged from your own body, family, or culture. This can happen when we go through major changes, like moving out or abroad," Dragomir says.
If you're between the ages of 17 and 25, you may be having these dreams due to a combination of life transitions and jaw pain from impacted wisdom teeth.
5. Personal growth
Does your dream involve something abnormal like a crooked or rotten tooth that you have to pull out?
"This dream could be a sign that you are growing as a person or are afraid of growth or changes. This could be your subconscious mind showing you that you are, or are not, ready to let go and embrace this new stage of your life," says Dragomir.
How you respond to losing teeth in this dream might indicate how you handle this personal growth.
While no one is thrilled to lose teeth in a dream, you might ask yourself if you dealt with the situation responsibly by asking for help and thinking about your next steps, or if you responded with fear and shame.
There's no one conclusive answer to how you should interpret your dreams.
Famous psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung believed that dreams were a way for people to explore their unconscious mind and desires.
However, while Freud proposed that dreams primarily expressed past thoughts or wants, Jung felt that dreams were a way to explore future development and were a result of something the waking self wasn't yet aware of or unable to understand.
More recently, psychologist Clara Hill suggested that dreams reflect waking life and can be interpreted with the help of a therapist. Her model, which culminates multiple theories from Freud, Jung, and other psychoanalysts, poses the idea that images in dreams have a specific meaning to that individual that can lead to deeper insights when that person interprets them.
Whether you agree with Freud, Jung, Clara, or none of them, keeping track of your dreams can help you better remember and interpret them.
How to better remember your dreams
If you'd like to improve your dream recall, getting more sleep can help. This is because you'll spend more time in the REM phase of sleep. That's important since REM sleep dreams are typically more vivid than dreams outside of this sleep phase, which may make them easier to recall.
On the flip side, some researchers found that poor quality sleep could also improve dream recall. However, dreams associated with poor sleep were often stress-related or nightmares. So, in the end, getting good quality sleep is probably best for dreams that you'd want to recall in the first place, plus it's great for your overall health.
A dream journal can also help you improve your dream recall. If writing in a notebook isn't your thing, you can try voice memos, your phone's notes app, or just sharing your dreams with a friend.
Moreover, keeping a dream journal can help you discover patterns in your dreams, like repeated symbols, in addition to helping you break through creative blocks and practice lucid dreaming.
If your dreams strongly impact your waking life, you can use journaling to explore them in greater depth and look for personal meanings.
"However, you shouldn't put too much weight on the interpretation of dreams because many of our dreams don't hold specific significance. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide how seriously to take your dreams," Dragomir says.
Investigating your dream about losing teeth might help you uncover unconscious beliefs you might have about your physical appearance, personal growth, or major life transitions, which can help you navigate your waking life with greater self-awareness.
Remembering your dreams is a huge piece of interpreting them, as is keeping track of any recurring feelings or symbols.
While there are a handful of ways to help you better recall and interpret your dreams, there's no one-size-fits-all approach.
"There is no one right or wrong way to interpret dreams. It is important to find the approach that resonates most with you and that you feel provides the most accurate insights," Dragomir says.