Ever have a dream that felt so real you could've sworn it actually happened? For me, these dreams usually involve running (which is why I sleep soundly through my morning workouts — new year, same me!). But sometimes the dreams that feel real can also feel like creepy nightmares: You bite into something, and you notice your teeth are on your plate. Or you’re casually talking to someone, and suddenly a tooth falls out into your hand. It’s terrifying. But what do dreams about your teeth falling out actually mean?
For starters, you are not alone if you've had one of these dreams. In fact, research published in the academic journal Frontiers in Psychology says that teeth-related dreams are one of the "most prevalent typical dream themes," though they're admittedly "somewhat inexplicable." But if you keep dreaming about losing your teeth, is it time to (finally) see a dentist, or does it mean something completely different?
The earliest analysis of teeth-loss dreams dates back to Ancient Greece and professional diviner (aka someone whose works focuses on predicting the future) Artemidorus, who connected the loss of teeth in a dream to the need to pay off debts (student loans, anyone?), according to the Frontiers in Psychology research. Later, the Jewish Talmud would interpret these dreams as an omen that a family member would die soon. But before you freak out about losing a loved one, don’t worry: Sigmund Freud, in classic Freudian fashion, related these dreams to male genitalia, obviously. According to his book, A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis, Freud believed that teeth dreams were a sign of both male and female sexual anxiety, as they represented castration and the feeling of being powerlessness. Yikes.
Since I couldn’t find a straight answer on the internet (as expected, TBH), I reached out to Lauri Loewenberg, certified dream analyst and dream expert to the stars, who tells Elite Daily that dreams about losing your teeth actually, oftentimes, have to do with communication. “Teeth dreams often are connected to how you communicate in real life. Teeth falling out most often means you have allowed too much out of your mouth: saying things without thinking about it first, gossiping, or saying something you wish you could take back,” Loewenberg explains. Hmm, sound familiar? Did you maybe say something you shouldn't have the other night at dinner with your partner? It’s OK, we’ve all been there.
But what if you haven’t been having any communication issues, as far as you can tell, and you're still having tooth-loss nightmares? Loewenberg tells me that another possible meaning, though less common, is that “it can be connected to a sense of feeling vulnerable or insecure about your appearance” — which kind of makes sense, right? I’d probably feel pretty insecure about my appearance if I was missing a tooth or two.
I also connected with psychic medium Chris Medina, who tells me that having a dream about your teeth falling out “means fear of losing control of yourself or a situation." In other words, he tells Elite Daily, it could mean "you’re holding on too tight" to something.
And, if you ask me, Medina's analysis actually seems to connect to all of these different interpretations of teeth-loss dreams: Debt, a death in the family, gossiping, and even castration are all instances where you might feel powerless in some way. I guess gossiping is less of an example of losing power, but you know those times when the thing you’re not supposed to say just comes out of your mouth like word vomit? Guilty.
Of course, dream interpretation also really depends on what’s going on in your own personal life at the moment, and most of these analyses of teeth-loss dreams are pretty general. If you really want to get to the bottom of what your dreams about losing your teeth mean, you might want to see a dream interpreter, or hey, float the story by your dentist. I'm sure they'll get a kick out of it either way.