In Your Dreams: Nocturnal Interpretations

Dear Claire,

I have this repeating dream that I would like to know about. In this dream, I lose all of my teeth. They fall out one at a time until all of them are gone. I will try to catch them as they fall out, but they disappear. I wake up really shaken by it and will think about it for too long afterward, which makes me brush my teeth a lot more.

Symbolism is quite subjective—and an individual’s personal experiences definitely affect the selection and meaning of symbols and themes in dreams (and that is why the individual is always the ultimate expert on his/her dreams—because his/her personal experiences and impressions have usually formed and influenced the symbolism in those dreams). However, some dream subjects have been found to be relatively standard in terms of symbolism—and teeth are an example of one of these subjects. Teeth, for the most part, are consistently a symbol for power in dreams—and this is completely understandable if one thinks about what teeth are used for. We bite and chew with them—and great damage can be inflicted by nearly any animal’s teeth. However, even more significant, at what times in our lives do we not have teeth (or not have many teeth)? Furthermore, at what time in our lives do we customarily begin losing teeth? The answers to these questions are relatively obvious—when we are very young and when we are growing older/have become elderly. And why are these answers so significant? Because these are the two most powerless stages of our lives—and the times at which we are at our physically weakest and most unable to defend ourselves against attack. As a result, having a recurring dream of this nature most likely signifies that, for whatever reason, the dreamer is feeling a loss of personal power at that particular time—and this perceived powerlessness, or actual loss of power, is being expressed in the dreaming world as the loss of his/her physical “teeth”. For example, if the dreamer received a bad evaluation at work or feels that he/she may be demoted or lose employment—or if the dreamer lost a tournament, was physically debilitated, or experienced the loss of some type of status or prestige—then he/she may dream that his/her teeth are falling out. This is merely the subconscious mind’s way of processing and venting the distressful, disempowering events of the dreamer’s waking world. However, to gain more clarity, and to better process and expunge any future waking world angst, it might be beneficial for the dreamer to keep a log of anything which occurred just prior to experiencing this repeating dream. Keeping notes of this nature could not only help to determine what could be causing (the impetus for) this type of dream response—and, thus, assist the dreamer in avoiding situations of this nature in the future—but could also assist the dreamer in better understanding why this dream imagery is so emotionally impactful and disturbing and, in that way, assist the dreamer in better understanding him/herself.

**End note: This is an extremely common dream—and because the imagery is so vivid, and the emotions associated with it are so strong and relatable, merely reading or hearing about this dream can cause certain individuals to have a nearly identical dream (apologies to those of you who read this and then dream about losing teeth!). If this is the case, then the dream would not be occurring because the dreamer is feeling weak and/or powerless—but, instead, would be the dreamer’s brain reviewing something which left an overly vivid and/or disturbing impression upon him/her. One of the brain’s ultimate tasks is protection—to ensure our survival—so this dream would be the subconscious mind’s method of bringing attention to, and then processing, the negative and/or threatening emotions (so that they are dealt with, eventually released, and do not resurface at a later date).

P.S.—In any event, while dreaming of losing teeth may be disturbing, anything that gets people to brush their teeth more often is always a positive!

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