Dreams in which your teeth are loose or falling out are common, and they have many psychological interpretations.
Anyone who’s had a dream about their teeth falling out can attest that it can be a stressful and even disturbing experience.
You might wake up in a rush and run to the bathroom to make sure your teeth are all still accounted for.
This dream can indeed be unsettling. So, it’s natural to wonder what it could possibly mean — even more so if it’s recurrent.
If you’re curious about how to interpret a dream about your teeth falling out and what may be causing it, consider certain events in your real life may be manifesting in your dream world. But there may also be more to it.
A simple Google search of “dream of teeth falling out” will send you down a rabbit hole of theories, interpretations, and analyses.
While online dream dictionaries can offer some insight, it’s important to remember that they lack scientific credibility.
“Dreams are just our minds thinking in a very different biochemical state, which is more emotional and rich with imagery, and less verbal, linear, and logical,” says dream researcher Deirdre Leigh Barrett, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at Harvard University.
In fact, many scientists reject the idea that dreams mean anything at all, explains Jeffrey Bennett, PhD, an anthropologist, psychoanalyst, and associate professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas.
“Scientists who are open to the idea that dreams might contain hidden meanings generally agree that meaning is context-dependent rather than fixed, and attributable to some kind of phylogenetically wired script,” Bennett says.
In other words, your dreams may depend on your experiences and emotional state that day, but also on human evolution.
Here are a few possible dream interpretations, some — but certainly not all — of which are based on scientific evidence.
Anxiety or stress
Although dream psychologists focus on what the dreamer says they’re feeling, Barrett explains that dreams of teeth falling out are usually — but not always — anxiety dreams.
Indeed, there’s some scientific evidence to suggest this dream may be linked to anxiety or psychological distress you may be experiencing.
Working on identifying the root of your anxiety, may help you understand this dream.
Psychiatrist Nereida Gonzalez-Berrios, MD, believes that dreams about teeth falling out could be related to your communication style. They may represent a fear of saying the wrong things to others.
“Maybe you bad-mouthed someone in your waking life and the fear is manifesting in the subconscious state,” she explains.
Megan Harrison, a licensed marriage family therapist in Tampa, Florida, says dreams of teeth falling out could be warnings about the health of loved ones.
“The dreamer may have been neglecting a family member or friend’s needs,” she suggests.
From the psychological perspective, this isn’t a premonitory dream. Instead, it could reflect concern, guilt, or grief about a loved one’s health status or recent passing.
Loss of control
Harrison says that dreaming about losing teeth may also represent a loss of control over something you’re trying to hold onto.
“Your teeth are a symbol of pride and strength,” she says. “The dream may represent feelings of inadequacy or vulnerability in your life.”
Gonzalez-Berrios believes that major life changes or personal and professional challenges that cause feelings of failure, unhappiness, unease, or uncertainty can manifest into dreams about teeth falling out. For example, a recent breakup, job loss, or death of a loved one.
“It may feel like you’ve lost control and power over your life or certain events,” she says.
Poor oral health
Gonzalez-Berrios suggests that poor oral health and dental irritation combined with unconscious fears pertaining to your waking life may also manifest in your dreams as teeth falling out.
The dental health interpretation is supported by research.
As a 2018 study notes, dreams of teeth falling out are more closely linked to dental hygiene than psychological distress — and interestingly, both factors were also attributed in the study to poor sleep quality.
According to Gonzalez-Berrios, teeth falling out dreams may also reflect negative self-image and may represent depleted energy and diminished well-being.
Harrison says the dream could represent an unconscious fear of losing prestige and respect. It may also reflect an unconscious fear that someone’s criticizing you.
In addition, Harrison suggests the destruction of all your teeth in a dream could mean you have been deceitful toward others.
Theologians, astrologers, psychics, and religious disciples have searched for meaning within dreams for millennia.
The earliest written interpretations of dreams about teeth falling out date as far back as the second century.
Of course, it’s a good idea to remember that the spiritual or metaphysical meanings of dreams are often not grounded in science and lack evidence.
That said, many people have worried that a dream about teeth falling out signifies a bad omen.
In fact, early Islamic interpretations suggested that teeth falling out dreams foreshadowed impending death in the family.
“Having a dream where your teeth are falling out is actually a good omen that something great is about to come into your life,” she suggests.
Kenzer agrees that every person’s situation is unique when it comes to dream decoding, as there’s no set meaning for any dream.
“If you have some kind of symbolism that means something to you — you should go with that,” she says.
According to Kenzer, following your intuition is synonymous with receiving divine guidance from the astral plane.
Anthropologists like Bennett are interested in dreams because everyone experiences them. “Dreams are invariants — universal human experiences with biological determinations,” he explains.
While dreaming is a universal human experience, the different meanings we assign to dreams can vary across cultures.
“People around the world understand dreams and their meanings (or lack thereof) in very different ways,” Bennett says.
“In some [cultural] settings, dreams are viewed as communications with the gods or the deceased,” he explains. “In other settings, they are believed to contain messages about the ebb and flow of family and social life and how to regulate it.
“And in other settings, they are believed to contain clues that pertain to the history and status of the dreamer’s inner world.”
According to Bennett, meanings can be both shaped and constrained by the unique understandings that people in different cultures have inherited and acquired throughout the course of their lives.
From an anthropological perspective, the true meaning of a dream is less significant than the different meanings people associate with it and what that reveals about their society and culture.
Freud’s theory on dreams leaves analysis up to the individual. It seeks meaning by exploring your consciousness, examining the interplay of the subject matter within a dream in an attempt to understand it.
In addition, Freud rejected the theory that dreams of teeth falling out represented death. Instead, he posited the dream had underlying sexual connotations, like masturbation and castration.
Carl Jung’s theories on dreams evolved over the course of his life and throughout his research.
While some aspects of Jung’s evolving theories aligned with Freud’s, he distanced himself by claiming that dreams often anticipated future events.
Jung also suggested that teeth dreams represented childbirth in women, which some have interpreted as symbolic of an individual’s impending “rebirth.”
Some experts may believe a recurring dream about your teeth falling out may indicate there’s something worrying you or causing stress in your waking life. There’s little evidence to support this theory, though.
If the dream is causing you distress, Barrett says it can be useful to try to understand it.
Ask yourself what it means to you in general to lose your teeth and what specific events on a given day may have set off the dream’s occurrence.
“If recurrences of such a dream are distressing you, the best way to avoid an anxiety dream is to think of what you would like to dream about instead,” Barrett says.
“Perhaps a favorite person or place, or perhaps you love flying dreams — then let yourself fall asleep telling your dreaming mind, ‘I want to dream about X,’ and you’ll often have a pleasant dream.”
According to Harrison, it’s helpful to consider the imagery of what’s happening in the dream.
“If there were other images or emotions along with the image, it will provide a clue as to why your unconscious mind was seizing that particular symbol,” she says.
A dream about your teeth falling may also depend on what teeth mean to you.
Try asking yourself the following questions to derive meaning for yourself. How you answer may reveal something about your psychological state.
- What are teeth? Are they something you bite with, or something to feed and nourish yourself with?
- What do teeth represent to you? Are they a basic necessity, or are they a symbol of vanity or sex appeal?
Barrett says that sometimes the dream can be associated with an actual loss of teeth.
“Some dreamers will tell you about losing their baby teeth in childhood — either as a scary event or with positive associations to the tooth fairy,” she says.
“Other dreamers say teeth are knocked out mainly in angry fistfights, while others associate losing teeth to something that happens in old age and which is foretelling death.”
It’s clear there are many interpretations of dreams about teeth falling out and very little consensus.
While a dream about you losing your teeth could represent anxiety or psychological distress, research also suggests that it may be more closely tied to poor oral health and sleep disturbances.
The only “correct” interpretation of the dream really depends on the meaning you give it on an individual or cultural level.
“Dream interpretation depends upon the details of the dream, your feelings related to the vision, and the various real-life issues that you might be facing now or may encounter in the future,” says Gonzales-Berrios.
Reflect on what is happening in your life that may be causing you anxiety or tension and consider what teeth mean to you. You may benefit from journaling about your dreams.
Tending to your mental well-being in your waking state may also help prevent the occurrence of stressful dreams, though there’s no guarantee since dreams are often random.
“If you had an emotionally charged dream about teeth falling out and are unable to recall any feeling associated with the dream, it may not be a significant event,” says Harrison.
Not everyone remembers their dreams, but vivid dreams about teeth falling out seem to remain in the forefront of our consciousness more than others — and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“The process of losing teeth and growing new ones is also connected to the development of human character,” says Harrison. “Dreams about teeth falling out can represent a loss, but also an opportunity to grow stronger.”