Keep losing your teeth in dreams? A psychologist explains what it means

What do our dreams really mean? In Stylist’s Dream Journals, we’re working with psychologist Dr Kalanit Ben-Ari to reflect on some of our most puzzling bedtime visions – and figure out how, if at all, we should respond to them in our waking hours. This week’s anonymous journal comes from a woman who wants to know why she keeps losing her teeth in her dreams.

Have you ever dreamt about losing your teeth?

It’s the sort of bedtime vision that everyone has an opinion on. Because dreams of missing teeth, or teeth falling away from your mouth, are incredibly commonplace – albeit far more unnerving than, say, dreams about our exes, wild animals or turning up to a school exam feeling thoroughly unprepared. 

The many interpretations of dreaming about a school exam

Google what it means to dream about your teeth falling out, and you’ll soon discover that it is a scenario thought to be caused primarily by psychological stress. Or, depending on who you ask, a deep personal loss. 

This can be related to any of the following:

  • the death of a loved one
  • the breakdown of a relationship
  • the loss of a job
  • the threat of losing a home

Some even believe that it can be related to a loss of autonomy or power within yourself, too.

The psychology of dreams

Psychologist and therapist Dr Kalanit Ben-Ari, however, believes that there’s more to it than that.

“The most important thing to consider with a dream about tooth loss is this; how the dreamer was feeling when they woke up,” she says. 

“These feelings have great importance in helping us to understand the specific meaning of a dream.”

She cautions: “Remember, dreams are incredibly personal, and the best way to interpret them and offer guidance is in conversation with the dreamer.”

And so, using her skills and unique understanding of the unconscious mind, Dr Ben-Ari has offered her interpretation of our anonymous dreamer’s unique bedtime visions about her teeth falling out.

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The dream

Our anonymous dreamer says: “In this dream I’m at my boyfriend’s flat, or at least somewhere that vaguely resembles it, and while we’re going about our day making dinner or chatting with his friends, my teeth start to fall out at various intervals.”

I never end up without any teeth at all, but I usually lose about five or six in total.

She continues: “At first it’s the teeth at the back of my mouth which I’m able to catch and hide somewhere in the flat. No one seems to notice. 

“Eventually, though, one of my front teeth falls out in front of my boyfriend’s friend as I open my mouth to talk to him, which is obviously very embarrassing and very difficult to hide.”

What does it mean to dream of missing teeth, really?

The dreamer finishes: “My boyfriend never sees me lose a tooth, in any version of the dream, but his friend does and very awkwardly tries to help. 

“I never end up without any teeth at all, but whenever I’ve had this dream I lose about five or six in total.”

What does it all mean? A psychologist offers her interpretation

Dr Kalanit Ben-Ari says “dreams are the soul’s way of directing and guiding us beyond our conscious stories about ourselves.”

Dr Ben-Ari says: “In this dream, you talk about a feeling of embarrassment; you are hiding the evidence of your condition from the other people in the dream.

“The ‘other people’, of course, are your boyfriend and his friend. It isn’t mentioned what gender the friend is, but if he is a male it could be that they collectively represent your male energy. We all have male and female energies within us, and it could be that in this case those energies are out of balance or connection with each other.”

One possible explanation for teeth falling out in a dream is that it is indicative of communication challenges.

Dr Ben-Ari continues: “The central aspect of the dream is the loss of your teeth. The teeth here could be viewed as an element of the earth, or a sense of power. I wonder if you are feeling powerless in an area of your life? Or perhaps it could be that you feel you need to bring your inner and conscious thoughts into the real, everyday life, and that is making them more ‘earthy’.

“I also wonder what was happening in the day leading up to the dream. Usually when trying to understand the meaning of a dream it’s valuable to reflect on the events of your day. Did anything unusual happen? Did you have a conflict or disagreement with your boyfriend? Are you regretting some of the things that you said, or the way in which you said it? One possible explanation for teeth falling out in a dream is that it is indicative of communication challenges: things that have been said in a wrong or inauthentic way.”

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Dr Ben-Ari goes on to say: “Another possible reading for the loss of teeth is that it is representative of an actual loss in your life. It could represent the loss of a person, but similarly it could be the loss of a way of being; a loss of innocence, for example, or perhaps youth, or a friendship. Do you feel that you are currently in a period of transition or major life change? Those feelings of loss that come about from big life changes could be related to your dream.

“What I find particularly interesting is that the boyfriend is not aware of this loss – in whatever form that may be – but his friend does, and you were trying very hard to hide it. What is it that this symbolises in your life, what is it that you are trying to hide? And what is it that you need to grow in yourself again (in the dream this would be new teeth) in order to repair this loss, and learn to communicate openly with your loved ones again?”

She finishes: “I would invite you to reflect back on the day before the dream, and think about the different things that the teeth could represent, and the people you were in touch with during that day and also in the dream. Also, consider how you felt upon waking, if you are able to remember that. 

“By putting these different pieces of information together you can start to try to understand your very personal puzzle of a dream. Then when you have done that, imagine yourself back in the dream, and then pause on the moment in which you were feeling embarrassment. Instead of hiding from your partner, share what is happening with him. Let your imagination guide you in this moment to explore this transformation, and see what things you discover.”

Psychologist and author Dr Kalanit Ben-Ari has worked as a therapist for over 20 years, specialising in child development and mental health – which means she’s particularly adept at understanding the unconscious mind. She has a Master’s degree in Social Work, focusing on Clinical Child Development, and a Doctorate in Psychology from the Institute for the Study of Children, Families and Social Issues at the University of London. 

She has written two very successful parenting books and teaches a parenting programme at her clinic in Hampstead, London. Her expert comment and advice on mental health, fear, anxiety, and relationships is regularly featured in the UK press, and she recently launched a brand new online community, Get The Village.

You can follow her on Instagram at @Dr_Kalanit.

Images: Ami O’Callaghan/Belle PR/Getty

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