Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Why do I dream that my teeth are falling out?!

That's right. The title of this post should immediately separate anyone who is reading this blog into two categories. The first category consists of those of you who read the question and immediately thought, "Girl, you must seriously need to floss!" (And you're probably right because I don't do so nearly as often as I should.) For those of you who had that reaction, you have my permission to stop reading now. You will never, nor do I expect you to, understand.
Now, on to those of you whose reaction was "OMG! OMG! I dream that too!!! What DOES that mean?!?!"...keep reading. Not because I have the answer. Well, the RIGHT answer, anyway. Just read on to know you're not alone.

I've had this dream for years. Not all that often. Just once a month or so. Maybe more if I'm under a lot of stress. I had it last night. And it was even more traumatizing that usual. For the most part, I usually dream that I'm chewing something, when I suddenly realize that a tooth has fallen out. Followed by another tooth. Then another. And then, before I know what's happened, I end up spitting out a mouthful of teeth. (I know this is gross...if you don't identify...in which case you should've stopped reading like I advised you to do.) The dreams are always so vivid that I often wake up feeling like they were real. Only to breathe a sigh of relief once I realize my incisors are still intact.

I never realized how common my dream was until someone brought it up once at a family reunion. I was SHOCKED (and relieved?!) at how many people confessed to dreaming the very same thing! I've since found myself in more than one setting where the topic was introduced and even more people were both amazed and perplexed by the fact that they share a common nightmare.

Now I should point out that I'm not one who believes that dreams have some underlying meaning, or that they can be foreshadowing or prophetic. I don't even know how much I buy into the fact that they symbolize anything about what's really going on in your life. I tend to think they're just an assortment of people/places/elements, that you experienced or thought about (maybe even subconsciously) during the day, that randomly come together during REM sleep to form meaningless, abstract combinations. But the fact that so many people share a common dream must mean SOMETHING. Much like dreams about falling. Or about showing up for school or work naked. I mean, who has that EVER happened to?! So, if we're not dreaming about it because it did or could happen, then why?!

Well, I did some "research." By research, I mean...I Googled. Just to see what the sources out there had to say on the issue. And, MAN, is there a broad spectrum of sources on the internet giving information about dreams! Here are some possible explanations that I found for this particular nightmare:

Anxieties about health or appearance: Dreaming about losing your teeth, which are symbols of good health and beauty, could symbolize an underlying fear of illness or of feeling less attractive.

Fear of growing older or death: There are two times in life when we lose teeth...when we lose our baby teeth as children, and when our teeth deteriorate as older adults. Dreaming of losing teeth could reflect a concern about growing older, the realization of our mortality, or even the mere fact of nearing a milestone birthday.

Feelings of powerlessness/abandonment: Often in dreams about losing teeth, the dreamer realizes one tooth is falling out and tries to stop or prevent what's happening...but to no avail. This could represent an area of the dreamer's life where he or she feels powerless.

Secrets/Embarrassment: Losing or spitting out teeth can represent admitting or expressing something that's been concealed, as well as a desire to hide something that might cause embarrassment. It can also symbolize lying or a feeling of being lied to.

An actual physical problem: What manifests itself in our dreams could be a result of a real physical problem we're experiencing, even one so subtle that we're not cognizant of it during our waking hours.

Q: Why do I dream that my teeth are falling out?!
A: Probably because I grind them in my sleep!*

*See future post about causes for grinding one's teeth...

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