While monsters and ghosts might spring to mind when you think of bad dreams, dreaming about your teeth falling out is somehow just as scary. Whether you’ve dreamt that your teeth crumbled to pieces or you pulled them out one by one, dental dreams really are the stuff of nightmares — and come with all sorts of interesting meaning, once you know how to interpret them.
It may seem strange to dream about your teeth falling out, but certified dream analyst Lauri Loewenberg says this theme is actually one of the most common recurring dreams her clients report. These nightmares can be closely connected to what’s going on during the daytime because your brain tends to use symbolic language and imagery to address challenges in your waking life, says Robert Betancourt, MA, a professional counselor. Translation: Dreams can be used as a sort of window into your subconscious.
Having that peek into your psyche can help you tackle those challenges head-on. According to Loewenberg, interpreting your dreams could be the ticket to solving whatever's going awry in your waking life. To help, experts explain what your dreams about teeth falling out might mean so you can start addressing them at the source.
1. You've Been Struggling With An Inferiority Complex
If you've been feeling embarrassed and/or inferior lately, and it's been taking a toll on your self-esteem, it very well might show up in the form of dental-related dreams, says shamanic practitioner Khi Armand. "Teeth falling out in a dream is often a sign [of] loss of personal power, whether it is being actively given away or lost through misdealings with others in our lives," he tells Bustle.
Think about it — in the animal world, baring your teeth is a show of power and assertiveness, adds Loewenberg, so a toothless sneer won’t be as threatening. If you’ve been feeling powerless as of late, she says it may be time to practice being more assertive. By looking out for yourself and your own needs — for instance, saying "no" to things you aren't totally invested in — you can take back some of that power and feel more in control, which will hopefully spell the end of your dental nightmares.
2. You're Worried About Saying The Wrong Thing
If you dream about spitting a bunch of teeth into your hand or plucking loose molars one by one, it could be a sign that you’re worried about embarrassing yourself by "spitting out" or saying the wrong thing, says counselor and hypnotherapist Susan Leigh.
If this sounds like you, Leigh recommends scanning your upcoming events to see if one of them could be triggering your dreams about teeth falling out. Do you have an important networking event and you’re worried about coming up with chitchat? Or a big date that’s got you sweating over what to say? It’s possible you’re more anxious than you realize. To ease your worry, it may help to prepare yourself with some talking points ahead of time so you can go into the situation feeling more confident.
3. You're Not Feeling Great About Your Appearance
Since a bright, full smile is often closely tied to attractiveness, it makes sense that dreams about rotting teeth may point to self-esteem issues or reveal an underlying worry that you somehow don't measure up. "Your smile is indicative of how you are able to face the world," says Tracee Dunblazier, a spiritual empath and author. And one that is imperfect in a dream — or literally falling apart — can certainly reflect how you're feeling.
4. You're Concerned About What Others Think Of You
Just like a teeth falling out dream can indicate that you don’t like how you look on the outside, it can also signal that you don’t like who you are on the inside, says Loewenberg. If you feel super embarrassed about your appearance in dreamland but generally feel good about how you look during waking hours, then she recommends turning inward. Is there something about your character that is causing you to feel insecure? Identifying and addressing whatever personal trait your subconscious may be flagging could help relieve your nightmares, she says.
5. The Thought Of Getting Older Scares You
Teeth aren’t just connected to your appearance in the present — they're also strongly associated with aging, which is why you may have this dream if you’ve been thinking about getting older. "People, as they age, tend to spend more time and resources on their teeth," Dunblazier tells Bustle, and that concern can transfer to your subconscious. If you have a big birthday coming up or are worried about getting older, toothy dreams may follow.
6. Money Issues Are Stressing You Out
Money has a way of making people feel secure, so a lack of it can really prey on your subconscious, says Lisa Allen, MH, an astrology expert. "Our teeth are a very strong part of our body structure. We feel safe when we have something to proverbially sink our teeth into," she tells Bustle.
Money can be that "structure" that makes life feel more secure, so if you’re dealing with financial stress, it may show up in your dreams. Cut to you dreaming about wiggly, loose teeth or waking up from a nightmare where they all fall out.
7. You’re Stressed About The Dentist
Dentists are notorious for giving patients a hard time about brushing and flossing. That is their job, after all. But if yours recently made you feel bad about your dental health, or you’re dreading an upcoming appointment, Betancourt says that worry might show up in your dream. (Yes, sometimes dreams can be that literal.)
If your dental health concerns are keeping you up at night, he says that giving it an upgrade can help these types of dreams fade away. Who knew that leveling up your brushing and flossing game is as good for your dreamscape as it is for your pearly whites?
8. You Have A Big Decision Coming Up
Are you feeling stressed or indecisive about an impending major life decision? Dreams about teeth falling out can follow, says Dunblazier. Just like your mouth is letting your teeth go, these dreams may be your subconscious telling you to let go of any obstacles that are getting in the way of you tackling that decision, she explains. The solution? "Look to the current conflict or struggles in waking life to see where making a decision is beneficial,” she tells Bustle.
If this dream is recurring, Dunblazier recommends taking that as your cue to make a decision once and for all. While the right choice isn't always clear, sometimes you just have to do yourself a favor and pick one so that you can move forward.
9. You Regret Something You Said
Teeth dreams are commonly symbolic of your daytime communication, says Loewenberg. “Any dream that focuses on the mouth, lips, tongue, teeth, or the throat area will most often be connected to some kind of communication issue in your waking life,” she tells Bustle. “The reason why it's so common is because it's connected to a recurring behavior pattern, like saying something without thinking about it first or allowing something out of your mouth that shouldn't have come out, like your teeth.”
Perhaps your no-filter communication style led you to say something you regret, she adds. Think back on recent conversations to see if this might be the case, and if it is, make a mental note to mull things over before saying them aloud to prevent similar remorse (and ensuing teeth dreams) in the future.
10. You're Having Trouble Sharing Your Thoughts
While dreams about your teeth falling out can signal that you’ve said too much, sometimes the opposite is true as well, says Annette Goggio, MPH, EEMCP, an energy medicine expert. These nightmares could indicate that you've been mulling over an issue — literally "chewing on a problem" — but haven’t taken action yet. Once teeth dreams enter the picture, it's a sign that you need to deal with whatever's bugging you so you can sleep more peacefully at night, she says.
If this strikes a chord, it might also be a sign that you want or need to chat about what’s bothering you, Goggio adds. Talking to a trusted loved one or therapist could help you find some relief or coping skills to move past whatever's been holding you back.
11. You're About To Make A Major Life Change
Major life changes and the feeling of time moving on can also trigger teeth dreams, says Leigh. Are you about to make a big move or start a new job? Then don't be surprised if you fall asleep and dream about all your teeth falling out, she says. That symbolic change in appearance could be a proxy for change in your waking life.
12. You’re Being Too Picky
Having something stuck in your teeth is as nightmarish in your dreams as it is in real life. And it can symbolize more than what you ate for lunch — Loewenberg says that having dreams where you pick at something that’s trapped in your teeth could be your subconscious warning you that you’re becoming too “nitpicky” in waking life. Perhaps you’re always trying to control people around you, or maybe you’re constantly ragging on your own appearance. Regardless, literally picking at something in your dreams could be a signal that you need to take it easy on figuratively doing it while awake.
13. You Feel Weak
Ever had a dream that your teeth shattered or cracked apart? This could be a sign that you didn’t communicate something as strongly as you wished and you feel weak or unassertive as a result, says Loewenberg.
“Things crack and fall apart when they're weak,” she tells Bustle. “So you'll get this dream when perhaps you don't feel like you held up your end of an argument, when you didn't make your points strong enough, or when there were cracks in your story, so to speak.”
14. You Feel Out Of Control
It’s often hard to stop your teeth from falling out in your dreams, which is why it can also signify a loss of control, says licensed clinical psychologist Holly Schiff, PsyD. “Maybe there is an issue where you feel powerless or helpless or there is a sudden and overwhelming change where it is completely out of your hands,” she tells Bustle. Consider what else might be slipping through your fingers during the day.
15. You’re Clinging To Something
This type of dream could also represent something you’re desperately trying to hold onto, Schiff says, so take the time to consider what in your life might be hanging on by a thread. Could it be a relationship that isn’t working? A job that doesn’t feel like a good fit? A friendship that isn’t quite right? It may be time to let it go, kind of like those rotting teeth falling out in your dreams.
16. You Went Through A Tough Loss
Another surprising reason behind dental-themed nightmares? “Losing your teeth can also represent an actual real-life loss,” Schiff says. This dream theme might crop up after the loss of a loved one, a job, or the end of a relationship, she says.
17. You’re Too Busy
Consider how teeth break up food into little digestible pieces and you’ll get a key to another dream theme, says Jackie Tassiello, MPS, ATR-BC, LCAT, ATCS, a licensed board-certified art therapist. “If we dream that we don't have our teeth or they're falling out, it could be a sign that we're taking on too much,” she tells Bustle. If your life is packed to the brim, the dream might be a message from your over-worked brain to do the very same thing to your busy schedule — break it up into tinier, more digestible chunks.
18. You’re Mad About Something
Since we often associate teeth with aggression (again, think of the snarling animal in the wild), it stands to reason that a dream about your teeth could represent something you’re mad about, Tassiello says. “You can interpret dreams by exploring the symbols in your dream, including anything besides teeth, and asking yourself how you felt and if it relates to your waking life,” she explains. “Sometimes it won't feel like it directly relates, and that's OK. You might realize something down the road or continue to investigate other dreams in the meantime to practice. Like anything else, it's a process.”
19. You Don’t Feel Safe
Teeth also represent protection on a primal level. As psychotherapist Rev. Sheri Heller, LCSW says, “they are a means of biting, tearing, and providing self-sustenance through food. To lose teeth is to experience that the capacity to protect the self is compromised.”
Again, it’ll help to consider how the dream symbolism applies to your waking life. Look at the areas where you feel unsafe or compromised, or consider why you hold the belief that you can’t protect or look out for yourself, and you just might land on the reason why you keep having bizarre, tooth-related dreams.
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Rozen N, Soffer-Dudek N. Dreams of Teeth Falling Out: An Empirical Investigation of Physiological and Psychological Correlates. Front Psychol. 2018 Sep 26;9:1812. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01812. PMID: 30319507; PMCID: PMC6168631.
Lisa Allen, MH, astrology expert
Khi Armand, shamanic practitioner
Robert Betancourt, MA, a professional counselor
Annette Goggio, MPH, EEMCP, energy medicine expert
Susan Leigh, counselor and hypnotherapist
Lauri Loewenberg, certified dream analyst
Holly Schiff, PsyD, licensed clinical psychologist
Jackie Tassiello, MPS, ATR-BC, LCAT, ATCS, licensed board-certified art therapist
Rev. Sheri Heller, LCSW, psychotherapist
This article was originally published on April 26, 2017
This article was originally published on