Friday, 24 August 2012

Interpreting popular dream themes (3) - Teeth

One of the most popular dream themes is ‘teeth’, in particular dreams of teeth falling out.  One theory of teeth dreams is that they represent anxieties about appearance and how others perceive you. Teeth are an important part of appearance and are easily noticeable. They also play an important role in flirtation, particularly because the actions of smiling and kissing draw close attention to the mouth. In my own opinion, teeth may be significant in dreams because of two societal associations between teeth and general health and wellbeing. Firstly, teeth are required for survival. Whilst civilised humans may not require teeth for weapons, they are still necessary for eating – without teeth, we are unable to chew our food and would starve to death unless fed by others (for example, in hospital) or forced to exist on a liquefied diet. Secondly, bad teeth (lost or rotten) is not only unattractive, but are intrinsically associated with substandard personal hygiene, through poverty or unfortunate circumstance (unavoidable) or choice (neglect or misadventure i.e. drug/alcohol use or poor diet). Traditionally, dreaming that you had no teeth was thought to be an indication that the dreamer was suffering from malnutrition. Therefore dreams of teeth may stem from a fear of rejection, sexual impotence or the consequences of getting old. To support this notion, dream research found that women in menopause report to have frequent dreams about teeth, pointing to teeth dreams as being related to getting older and/or feeling unattractive and less feminine. Tooth loss in a dream suggests and also points to a particular energy loss, in some cases even that the sexual potency is at risk, what makes teeth appear also sexually significant. Bite desires in a dream suggests, that you would like to ‘eat’ or consume your love or sex partner. If young girls lose their teeth in a dream, the symbol may relate to the loss of virginity or inhibition in interpersonal relationships. Teeth that fail in the dream may also indicate feelings of guilt in love.

A further rationalisation for teeth dreams is that they may represent a deep fear of being embarrassed or making a fool of yourself in a given situation. Teeth dreams are an over-exaggeration of such worries and anxieties and suggest that you are unprepared for a task at hand.

Because teeth are associated with biting, tearing and chewing they obviously represent power. Losing teeth in a dream may be symbolic of feelings of powerlessness or problems in expressing yourself and getting your voice heard. You may be experiencing feelings of inferiority or lack of self-confidence in social situations or relationships. The dream may be an indication that you need to assert yourself more in waking-life or have faith in the importance of what you have to say.

A scriptural interpretation for bad or falling teeth indicates that you are putting your faith, trust and beliefs in what man thinks, rather than in the word of God. Many cultures, including the Hispanic and Greek cultures, believe that when you dream about loose, rotten, falling, or missing teeth, then it indicates that a family member or close friend is very sick or even near death. According to the Chinese tradition, there is a saying that your teeth will fall out if you are telling lies and thus dreaming of losing teeth may indicate a conscious acknowledgment of your own dishonesty or guilt over your deception. It has also been said that if you dream of your teeth falling out, then it symbolises money. This is based on the old tooth fairy story. If you lose a tooth and leave it under the pillow during sleep, a tooth fairy would bring you money. In Native American folklore, teeth falling out in a dream symbolises that you may be coming into an involvement with money. It is said that the involvement may be beneficial or harmful, but the events in the dream may not specify which will happen.

Some interpretations of teeth in dreams suggest that they represent envy, greed or devouring instincts. To clean or wash your teeth, foretells that some great struggle will be demanded of you in order to preserve your fortune. Another interpretation of dreams about brushing your teeth is that this indicates that you may need to borrow money from relatives. If you dream of gold teeth then this indicates a state of and happiness. To dream that you are having a set of teeth made, denotes that severe crosses will fall upon you, and you will strive to throw them aside, whilst dreaming that you have your teeth knocked out, denotes sudden misfortune or loss.

If you dream that your baby or child loses its teeth then this indicates that you need to move on in your life as you or childhood years are behind you, whilst dreaming of the tooth fairy indicates that you need to reward yourself in some way shape or form. It is clear that you have working too hard recently or are overworked. If your dream involves wearing a brace, then this indicates that you have been feeling that you will not been heard and that you have been restrained or rendered voiceless in conversations with more superior people. To dream that a child has gaps in their teeth suggests that you have been feeling hurt by a family member. If you are struggling to communicate to a large audience or to one person because of your teeth then this shows that there is a deep sense of feeling inadequate in social gatherings. It is time for you to get your confidence back. To dream about your wisdom teeth indicates new or emerging knowledge. You are learning something new about yourself. Alternatively, the dream may be telling you to act more smartly about a situation. Make sure to think things through clearly.

If you are grinding your teeth in your dream then this determines or loss of honesty and integrity. If you dream that you are examining your teeth or alternatively visit the dentist for a routine appointment then this is an indication that it is important for you to be careful of your affairs. Toothpicks in your dream would indicate that you feel frustration in trying to communicate with other people. If you dream of cleaning your teeth with toothbrushes then you need to make sure you think before you speak. According to Freudian symbolism, the mouth is generally associated with the feminine side of a person so the dream of teeth is often associated with improving relationships and communications with a female people in the future. Dreaming that one tooth is longer than the others portends sad news, whilst buckteeth augur unexpected travel. Bridgework is a suggestion that you should be more meticulous in meeting your obligations. A dream featuring the roots of your teeth is a warning against lending money or gambling. To dream of having a nerve removed predicts a season or period of good luck.

Big teeth suggest strength, power, or ability to harm, depending on dream. Especially in animal dreams it tends to show fear of being hurt or of aggression. Small teeth show the opposite, except that in a few dreams the small teeth belong to a snake or are poisonous in some way, suggesting something or someone putting emotionally damaging feelings in you – perhaps through ‘biting’ remarks. The canine teeth are what are left of larger teeth our ancestors used to defend themselves or warn off attackers. So the canine would particularly indicate your ability to defend yourself, or be powerful in the world – particularly for men. Teeth may, therefore, be perceived as a symbol of overt aggression in a dream – especially if you dream of biting someone, which is an expression of hostility. 

Losing a canine or canines might indicate that at times you feel more vulnerable or less confident. This might be accompanied by greater feelings of vulnerability. There might be some painful experience underlying such feelings. The clenching of teeth in a dream usually symbolises an enormous amount of tension, but we also grit or grind our teeth when holding back great physical or emotional pain, anger or despair. Seeing ‘dirty’ or ‘poisonous’ teeth in your dream suggests there is perhaps some sort of attitude that is obvious to others as you speak, and might also be influencing your body, or be injected by a bite. Dracula-type teeth have a similar meaning, but the ‘vampire’ teeth indicate that you are being injected and thereby influenced by someone else’s subtle drive to control you or poison your feelings or mind. If you have vampire teeth, you need to ask yourself if you are trying to negatively influence someone else or using them like a parasite. Finding a tooth may mean finding a part of you that was lost or memories of yourself (at the age when we lost our teeth) or may even relate to memories of a dead friend.

Dreaming about animal teeth could represent a part of you that has not been tamed yet or resists the pressure of external influences, such as education, culture, family or peer pressure. The connection with animals in dreams reminds us of our instinctual nature. If your dream contains disturbing or negative content, such as losing teeth, having your teeth pulled out, the animal teeth could represent feelings of aggression. The aggression could be felt towards someone or could be experienced by you as coming from the outside. Consider the kind of animal the teeth belong to and search for the corresponding meanings. For instance, do the teeth look like they are from a canine or feline? How big are they? The larger the tooth or teeth, the bigger the issue or concern the dream is pointing to. If you are dreaming about having an animal tooth or teeth in place of your normal teeth, your dream could indicate that you are in the process of integrating parts of your personality or emotions that are typically considered too wild or not suitable. If you are losing teeth or your teeth fall out, you may be releasing or would like to let go of parts that you feel are unsuitable.

If you have animal teeth, you are perhaps trying to integrate your instinctual or wilder emotions into your life. Depending on how you feel in the dream, this process may be easy or offer some resistance. Pay attention to symbols of loss and renewal.

To dream of tartar or any deposit falling off of the teeth and leaving them sound and white, is a sign of temporary indisposition, which will pass, leaving you wiser in regard to conduct, and you will find enjoyment in the discharge of duty. A dream of admiring your teeth for their whiteness and beauty symbolises the experience of pleasant occupations and much happiness; and the fulfilment of wishes and desires. If you dream that a dentist cleans your teeth perfectly, and the next morning you find them dirty, foretells someone you trust will deceive you.

Dreams of having your teeth pulled out are not thought to symbolise fear of ageing. Instead, they represent feelings of being ‘pulled’ in the wrong direction by another person or forced into doing something you do not want to do. If you are pulling out your own teeth, it may symbolise a need to slow down. Dreams of having teeth pulled out may come during times of significant transition. The dream imagery symbolises how painful or difficult the experience is for you as you go through changes. The changes in your life may be experienced as an aggression or be emotionally painful. Perhaps it’s like extracting yourself from your comfort zone, which often comes with facing loss, challenges and disturbing emotions. According to Carl Jung, if you dream about having a tooth or teeth pulled out and you are a woman, the dream symbolises giving birth, either literally or symbolically such as giving birth to a new self or a project. Your dream about pulling out teeth indicates that you are becoming more aware of your emotions. As such, it a sign that you are growing into self discovery, even if may at times feel painful.

Dreams of swallowing teeth, especially when experienced by women, often relate to conception and birth. The throat and Eustachian tubes have a similar shape to the uterus and fallopian tubes, so can depict conception or fear of it. In ancient cultures, a tooth was extracted and swallowed as part of a death and rebirth symbol. This may have arisen from the observation of losing one’s baby teeth and the growth of new teeth, suggesting the power of renewal. Swallowing teeth might also suggest ‘swallowing ones words’.

Dreams of rotten teeth are incredibly common – they are thought to be one of the most popular types of teeth dream. Typically, they are thought to symbolise anxieties about anxieties regarding people or events surrounding us in our current waking-life. Anything depicted as ‘rotting’ in a dream is a symbol that all is not good, and therefore need to be analysed carefully.  Rotting indicates that something has been damaged or gone bad. Other dream content – such as location and characters appearing in the same dream may give clues as to the underlying problem illustrated by the dream symbol of rotting teeth. Broken or chipped teeth may also imply that something requires your attention before it falls apart. These dreams may occur during periods where our waking selves are attempting to ‘fix’ something, such as a broken relationship. If the dream features someone else trying to break your teeth, this may indicate that someone is trying to ‘break you down’ in some respect. It may also mean that you need to keep your mouth shut. Noticing someone else with broken teeth symbolises your feelings of sympathy for that person. A dream about teeth breaking can be interpreted as a warning about the cost of a decision or action. You may have or are about to make a choice that compromises with your real needs or desires. Broken teeth may represent the emotional pain that comes with such a choice. A costly compromise is like losing a part of you or denying important needs. Through an image related to the body, a broken tooth or teeth, your dream is most likely pointing to the emotional pain that your decision triggered. A meaning of a dream about teeth breaking could be that you are “breaking” yourself and your sense of balance in order to satisfy others or goals that do not serve you well in the end. Dreaming about broken teeth could be a warning about a course of action you have chosen and its potential drawbacks. A broken teeth dream is an invitation to look at the path you have chosen. Check if you are losing sight of yourself and your true needs by going after some ideals that may not align with who you truly are or by compromising too much to fit with other people’s expectations.

Dreaming of loose teeth indicate that you may feel unsettled or unsure about what to do regarding an important matter in your waking life. Loose teeth typically symbolise a state of instability or indecisiveness. A dream about loose teeth could very well be a pun on the word ‘loose’ - have you been loosening up lately regarding a topic that used to be or is sensitive? Another interpretation of this type of teeth dream is about feeling you were too permissive or allowed something to happen that is now tinted with regret. Do you feel you have been too ‘loose’? The dream meaning of a loose tooth or loose teeth is anchored in feelings of worry, even perhaps the fear of losing something of high value to you. The dream may be a warning about a decision you have to make in order to preserve your integrity. The interpretation of dream about loose teeth could point to the need to protect yourself against influences, external or internal, behaviours or personal habits that could be detrimental to your health or emotional balance. A loose teeth dream provides you a useful feedback on the decision you’ve made or have not made yet. Listen to the kinds of feelings that are present in the dream and as you wake up as they will guide you to connect the meaning of your teeth dream with current life situations.

Cavities, tooth pain or other tooth-related ailments often symbolise a harsh exchange of words. If you try to keep your mouth closed to hide the problem with your teeth in the dream, this may symbolise a need to remain quiet and listen to others. The idea that teeth loss in dreams symbolises the importance of discretion is very common – many interpretations suggest that lost teeth represent revealed secrets.  Having a root canal in a dream can be very powerful. The emotion of the dreamer is very important when interpreting this particular symbol. A root canal symbolises the dreamer getting to the ‘root’ of a long-term issue that has caused pain for the dreamer and has frequently resulted in the dreamer not expressing him/herself, using sarcasm as a defence mechanism, using bitter words towards others defensively to emotionally harm others before they have the opportunity to harm him/her, or simply putting on a brave smile while hiding pain. The emotion felt by the dreamer during this dream is telling. If this was a nightmare or anxiety-provoking dream, it could simply reflect the dreamer’s fear of dentistry or the dreamer’s fears of exploring this core issue that has permeated their life and affected their social behaviour. Being relieved and positive about the root canal indicates the individual has made tremendous personal progress towards resolving the long-term issue and moving on with more security, confidence, and new sincerity and genuineness in social and intimate relationships.

Teeth falling out represent, for the most part, general anxieties about life and loss of control. These common dreams often occur when the dreamer is under pressure or stress in their waking-life. Common interpretations of dreams involving teeth loss include:
  1. Stressed about your job situation
  2. Fear of being impotent/impotency
  3. Afraid looking stupid in front of people/embarrassment
  4. Stress about getting older/trying to stay young and maintain a youthful appearance
  5. Have you lied to somebody?
  6. Lacking power/control in a relationship
  7. Attachment issues – trying to hold onto something which is evading you/which has been part of your life for a long time
  8. Your goals have been set too high and you are crashing down to earth
  9. Trying to conceal/cover something up
  10. Afraid of losing money/being abandoned
  11. Fear of failure
  12. Times of transition and change/personal growth and challenging personal limitations
  13. Self-expression and personal nourishment
  14. People have commented on how you go about activities in your life
  15. You have got an overwhelming sense of struggling in order to keep up with buying material possessions in your life
Recurring dreams about teeth loss may indicate that you have neglected a waking problem for too long and need to pay attention to it. Some interpretations of teeth loss indicate that this may refer to a ‘return to infancy’ – toothlessness is associated with sucking as the mother’s breast. A negative meaning for dreams of tooth loss sees losing a tooth or teeth as a symbol for something you are giving up in your waking life. You may be facing a situation where you have to make costly compromises and the trade-off is not satisfying. Worse, the dream could reveal that you’re not getting what you need and are engaged in a painful situation. Dreaming that you’re losing your teeth is a reminder that you either made a decision or are about to make one that feels like a heavy compromise and could generate emotional suffering if not dealt with it consciously. A positive meaning for this type of teeth dream associates tooth loss imagery with giving birth to something new in your life. Jung suggests that, especially for women, dreaming about losing a tooth or teeth relates to birthing. Losing teeth in your dream is an indicator of your ambivalence or the cost of a compromise you’ve been making. A losing teeth dream is a call to examine the reasons behind a decision you’ve made or have to make and how you feel about preserving the status quo or changing how things are.

Dreaming about losing a tooth or teeth draws the dreamer’s attention to important questions:
  1. Will you maintain the direction over the long term, make small adjustments or take a totally new course?
  2. How willing or able are you to tolerate the discomfort or tension of the situation you are in?
  3. What do you need to better align your life or living conditions with your priorities?
Other interpretations of teeth loss in dreams suggest that are symbols for family and relatives upper ones are ‘male’ and lower ones are ‘female’. According to this theory of interpretation, front teeth are siblings/children and molar teeth are parents or grandparents. The others represent uncles and aunts and other family members. If the teeth fell and were in your hand or were beside you, it means the family member will come to visit you. If the teeth were lost or fell in the soil, dirt means there will be a serious danger for them. This interpretation appeared on the Wiki Answers page, but is fairly obscure and does not appear in many other dream dictionary or symbolist information sites, although one Blog suggested that this particular interpretation has origins in Hindu tradition.

There may also be a more direct implication to your dream: you may have a dental problem of which your conscious mind is not yet aware. However, Sigmund Freud thought that dreams of teeth falling out represented an unconscious desire to masturbate. Castration and masturbatory fantasies (fellatio and cunnilinguis) are frequently linked to dreams of tooth loss in Freudian psychoanalytic theory of dream interpretation. The most common interpretation of finding yourself toothless in a dream is a loss of effectiveness, or again, feelings about ageing. Choking on a tooth may symbolise that you have given up something for the benefit of others. If you dream that you've actually lost your teeth and you can't find them and that you can feel them in your mouth then this shows you're about to enter into an engagement which is not going to please you. You are going to find yourself in a difficult situation with associates or friends and the best course of action is to actually decline this offer - this may be a party or a work event. If new teeth grow back or you have additional teeth then this signifies the outcome of what is likely to happen in the future. If they are bright and whiter then things are likely to be better. If they are bad or rotten then things are likely to be difficult for some time.

Dreaming of false teeth is symbolic of dishonesty or breaking rules. You may have done something in your waking-life to hurt someone – perhaps by revealing a secret or saying something inappropriate. False teeth represent covering up or concealing something. Teeth may be symbolic of a lack of sincerity

Spitting out teeth in a dream symbolise fear of ageing and losing your looks. An alternative meaning is that you are admitting something that you have held back or kept quiet for some time. You are expressing it in a blunt and forthright manner.

A dream of touching your teeth symbolises that you have control over situations in your life. To notice your gums in your dream suggests that you are having difficulties communicating your emotions or thoughts. If your gums are sore, then it means that you have been holding back those negative emotions and thoughts for too long. You need to let go and start expressing your emotions. If you dream that your gums are bleeding and you subsequently have a lot of blood loss, then this indicates a loss of some type of argument or conflict. Another interpretation of bleeding gums is that you feel that there is a lack of support around you. To dream that a thick, gray discharge is oozing out of your gums implies that you need to confront some fear or depression. You may have been trying to avoid these feelings.


  1. She turned off the street into a doorway, ascended a step and glanced towards me. She smiled and her teeth were black and filed to points. She went inside and closed the door behind her.

  2. Thanks for sharing it is a Very Informative page, I hope it will be useful for all of us, teeth falling out dream psychoanalysis is almost experienced by everyone in a lifetime and we always heard that dreams have some meaning.