Why Do We Dream About Teeth Falling Out?
March 13, 2020
Elemental–A quick Google search for “What does it mean if I dream that my teeth are falling out?” will direct you to countless different interpretations and explanations of this “dream symbol.” Making sense of dreams and what they say about our psyche is rarely as clear-cut as Google makes it seem.
“Saying something like, ‘Dreaming of X means that you are anxious’ — that’s pseudo-science,” says Dr. Nirit Soffer-Dudek, a senior lecturer in BGU’s Department of Psychology and director of the Consciousness and Psychopathology Laboratory.
During a 2018 study she co-led, the BGU researchers sought out to determine psychological and physiological causes of teeth-falling-out dreams. “Although we assumed that teeth-falling-out dreams would be related to decreased well-being or increased stress, we actually failed to find that.” Their findings suggested that the dream may not have much psychological significance, but it’s more likely to mean something physiologically.
“We found that other dreams — like that of feeling smothered/as if you are choking — were related to psychopathological symptoms such as anxiety, whereas teeth dreams weren’t,” she says. “Our main finding was that they were related to reporting that you often feel uncomfortable in your jaw or teeth after awakening, suggesting that these dreams are probably the result of teeth clenching during sleep.”
This physiological cause of the dream is likely why the symbol is found in dreams across the world and not unique to the people of just one country. Jaw clenching and teeth grinding aren’t limited to one culture. “Any experience which is physiological and thus shared by all humans can explain why experiences are universal,” states Soffer-Dudek.
If you dream that your teeth are falling out and feel pain or tension in your jaw upon waking, it’s possible that you’re clenching or grinding your teeth in your sleep, in which case you might want to see a dentist.
If you think you might be experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression, it’s best to speak to a mental health professional and leave the diagnosis up to them instead of a dream dictionary.