November 8, 2002
1:25 PM   Subscribe

Ever dream your teeth fell out?? I did. I used to think it was because some of mine really did once (through violence, not poor dental hygiene). Turns out everybody dreams this.
posted by luser (58 comments total)
I am persisted by a vision while I bicycle: suddenly a car door opens, a bus beside me I can't swerve, then all my teeth are knocked out by the impact of the car door.

While I bike, I imagine the opening doors, in anticipation of the violent loss of my teeth. How it must feel, the blood, if I will catch the corner or the glass.
posted by four panels at 1:36 PM on November 8, 2002

I dream that my teeth are falling out when I am worried about my financial situation.

I dream I am flying if I eat chocolate before I go to bed.
posted by culberjo at 1:43 PM on November 8, 2002

That's really weird. I've had the teeth falling out dream too. Several times.
posted by namespan at 1:44 PM on November 8, 2002

Ever dream your teeth fell out?

Not all my teeth. Just a few. Always chalked it up to fear of growing older, fear of... my teeth falling out?

My brushing and flossing habits usually improve for at least a week after the dream...
posted by Shane at 1:44 PM on November 8, 2002

I wished I dreamed about this. All I dream about are things incredibly inane like watching football (and it's not even an exciting game, usually Bengals versus the 1980s Houston Oilers) or typing E-mails. Sometimes for long stints I actually dream about having nothing to do and picking my nose.

You'd think I'd have such a hectic lifestyle that I have to dream about being lazy, but in actuality my days are pretty much like my dreams. And then I have odd deja-vu like today when I was labeling CDs and I could have sworn I dreamt about doing such a stupid chore.
posted by Stan Chin at 1:45 PM on November 8, 2002

Martin Amis' Dead Babies features a character with some serious dental-fear issues.
posted by Skot at 1:48 PM on November 8, 2002

I've had that sort of dream for years. Sometimes it's one or two teeth falling out, sometimes all of them and sometimes I can feel them loose in my mouth.

posted by ChaosKitty at 1:49 PM on November 8, 2002

Yep - I've had dreams about that a few times a year for as long as I can remember. One tooth falls out, then another, and eventually I am spitting out dozens of teeth and there are piles of teeth in front of me. Pretty cool.
posted by trigfunctions at 1:50 PM on November 8, 2002

Can you do the dental machine gun thing like in cartoons trigfunctions?

I've dreamt of tooth loss once or twice. Just a single tooth.
posted by ursus_comiter at 1:53 PM on November 8, 2002

Just as a side note, any dream you have repeatedly can be used as a cue in the future to help you remember you're dreaming. Once you're lucid, all kinds of possibilities are available to you. Now back to your regularly scheduled teeth.
posted by soyjoy at 1:54 PM on November 8, 2002

Here's more on teeth in dreams.

I seem to always have dreams about having braces. I'd say the interpretation is pretty accurate.
posted by MsVader at 1:55 PM on November 8, 2002

I've had this dream so many times, I sometimes realize during the dream that "if my teeth are falling out, I must be dreaming" so I make myself "wake up".

...and then my teeth fall out again. Nested nightmares--what a subconscious eh?
posted by jens at 1:57 PM on November 8, 2002

four panels, I once fell off my bike, cracking my chin on some rocks--three results of that fall were: 1) A hole the size of a golf ball under my chin, 2) A tooth shattering (one of the back ones) and 3) A canine tooth breaking skin of my lower lip. I often have what I call death fantasies, which I think resemble how you feel riding, when I'm walking around--like, for example, tripping on concrete steps and my face smashing into the edges of the steps.

I also had my first tooth dream just this week, it was horrible. It felt so real, and I was busy figuring out if I should go to work that day, or go to the dentist, bizarre. Anyways, I'm young-ish, and not worried about growing old at all, what gives?

On preview: My first paragraph really paints a picture of me being a beauty queen, no?
posted by Ms.JaneDoe at 2:01 PM on November 8, 2002

I've had that dream once that I can remember - more disturbing are the times I've dreamt my teeth suddenly became soft, ugh - or the times I've dreamt of biting down on something and having all my teeth shatter like so much porcelain. Weird that this is a common subject of dreams.
posted by kokogiak at 2:03 PM on November 8, 2002

like msvader, i've had the losing teeth dreams and the braces dreams.

to be more specific, i have dreams about having to wear my retainer and it would never fit. i stopped wearing my retainers 16 years ago. often times it is the retainers that start my teeth feeling loose and then falling out.

my current recurring dream takes place in hotels --the lobby, the hallway, the pool, etc-- but places i've never been -just unremarkable marriott-like places. and most often in the dreams, the hotel is in canada.

no wonder i'm so messed up.
posted by birdherder at 2:09 PM on November 8, 2002

The "teeth falling out" dream is without question my most common recurring dream. Perhaps the reason that I remember these dreams so vividly is because--as Ms.Jane says--there is a very realistic quality to them.

I always assumed these dreams were the result of a fear of growing old, but, after perusing several of the Google links, it appears that there are numerous interpretations for these common dreams. Is there any definitive research on the meanings of such dreams, or is it just anybody's best guess?
posted by samuelad at 2:12 PM on November 8, 2002

Mine break apart into bits too, kokogiak, and yes these dreams are very realistic. Spitting and pulling out the broken bits is such a "real" feeling I'm always confused when I wake up, not knowing if it really happened or not.
posted by yhbc at 2:13 PM on November 8, 2002

I have a persistent dream of auto-fellatio.


Maybe I shouldn't have shared that.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:16 PM on November 8, 2002 [1 favorite]

Been there. I had the dream most often when I was in grad school, in my 20s. The tooth loss almost invariably happened in a library, some place quiet and almost private. But I had to walk though a public space to get out. I was, in fact, very insecure about my appearance at the time, though not necessarily about growing old. And I was very insecure about my intellectual abilities, about my ability to do grad-school level work, that sort of thing. So I suppose I fit the profile. The dream was very real--in the dream, I would remember having had dreams about my teeth falling out before, but this time it was for real. Once I learned what the dream was about, though, I stopped having it.

And I've had the auto-fellation dream, too. Just wishful thinking, I guess.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:22 PM on November 8, 2002

I am aware of about one dream a month. I'm afraid of what that might mean.
posted by Hall at 2:24 PM on November 8, 2002

I, too, have the teeth falling out dreams. Normally, however, it isn't just teeth falling out. They actually crumble and I spit them out in little bits. This usually happens when I've been extremely stressed, and as a side effect I'll wake up in the morning with a sore jaw from grinding my teeth.
posted by ScottUltra at 2:25 PM on November 8, 2002

and I've never dreamed about my teeth falling out.
posted by Hall at 2:25 PM on November 8, 2002

Yup. Me too. The dreams are totally convincing and it takes several minutes after waking to get used to the fact it hasn't happened. Teeth and Elevators are my thing. I'm not very impressed with the 'cod-freudianism' of the links though - more like astrology than science.

For years I've held to a belief that dreams are my brain defragmenting itself, rather like a hard disk when you run a defragger. Suited the hard rationalist in me and there might be some truth in it but two questions have recently surfaced that bother me. One is why my dreams always involve company. I never dream that I'm on my own - reading a book or watching TV. I'm always doing something with other people. The second question is 'what's doing all this rendering?'. I dream in colour, with shadows, reflections etc. Is my brain making these complex rendered images? I doubt it's up to it. So where is this stuff coming from?
posted by grahamwell at 2:26 PM on November 8, 2002

I am oddly relieved to hear that others have these dreams! I've had these many times and they are actually pretty nightmarish. I'd always attributed them to my guilt trip du jour. Yes, yhbc--very realistic.
posted by banjotwang at 2:29 PM on November 8, 2002

Is it safe?

Crash, I have the same dream. You're not alone. ;-)
posted by WolfDaddy at 2:33 PM on November 8, 2002

Maybe I just like my appearance, but the only recurring dream I can remember (and I haven't had it in a while) is me in some Latin American rug store, for some reason. Hmm.

My real question is if there's any scientific relevance to dream interpretation. I know the field is not in any state of certainty, but I thought that it was generally agreed that dreams were just semi-random amalgations of images/ideas that had been "floating around in the head", so to speak. Which is why when we wake up and try to explain the dreams, we always catch ourself wondering why it doesnt make an ounce of logical sense now, though it did before.
posted by Kevs at 2:33 PM on November 8, 2002

I once saw this interesting special on dreams--it was a while ago and I don't remember the program I saw it on, otherwise I'd link to it--anyways, basically the point was that dreams were the result of random synapses firing while you sleep and your brain trying to interpret the signals as best it can, by applying a story line.
posted by Ms.JaneDoe at 2:34 PM on November 8, 2002

crash & wolfdaddy - that can lead to your teeth falling out if you're not careful.   ;-)
posted by madprops at 2:37 PM on November 8, 2002

I remember from my high school pyschology class that dreams of teeth falling out were representative of sexual frustration(s). Of course, all dreams could be manipulated to mean you are sexually frustrated...hmm.
posted by deathofme at 2:40 PM on November 8, 2002

I have also had this dream occasionally , I usually dream that my top two front teeth get loose and I end up pulling them out. Really weird that it's so common.
posted by untuckedshirts at 2:41 PM on November 8, 2002

mine dissolve and crumble... like those Red Bird peppermint sticks. as they crumble, they fill my mouth, but i cannot spit them out.
posted by techgnollogic at 2:44 PM on November 8, 2002

Hmmm, the teeth dreams...I've had them all, the falling out, the shattering, the going soft dream. Just last night I had a new one-- all of my teeth developed enormous cavities, giant holes eating through the enamel.

And four panels, I'm right with you on the dark, vivid imaging. Among many other things, I often imagine myself, while I am hiking, tripping over a rock and having a branch poke my eyeball out.

Ugh. Too much Stephen King as a kid?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 2:45 PM on November 8, 2002

Auto-fellatio -- now there's a solution to all the world's problems.

As for the teeth dream, I have it on occasion. My dentist said it was 'cause I was horny. S'pose she was just trying to put the moves on me?
posted by spilon at 2:46 PM on November 8, 2002

I had crooked front teeth and couldn't afford braces, so I had daydreams about having great teeth. Now I have braces on and daydream about being able to eat doritos again. What does that mean?
posted by Salmonberry at 3:25 PM on November 8, 2002

grahamwell: an interesting question, whether your brain is capable of "rendering" the world in the detail one sees in dreams. Just because it seems unlikely doesn't mean that your dream experience isn't coming from your own head.

Nobody really knows how just about anything in our brain works, but some people (like Fodor, IIRC) hypothesize that the mechanisms of thought employ internal symbolic representations of concepts--languages, in a sense. In this view, it is possible that the phenomenological experiences of dreams are not created through photorealistic rendering of scenes and objects but instead by the generation of mental representations of same, which presumably requires far less CPU time, so to speak.

While many suspect that the hard line Fodor takes on languages of thought is a bit extreme, I don't think that this full interpretation is necessary for this kind of thing to work...

Interesting stuff...
posted by tss at 3:37 PM on November 8, 2002

Hey. How come I've never had this dream? I feel so left out! It seems far more, ah, interesting than my own recurring late-for-a-final-exam dream (which doesn't seem to correlate with any particular anxieties or, for that matter, with any actual exams I'm supposed to be inflicting on my students).
posted by thomas j wise at 5:32 PM on November 8, 2002

No dreams about teeth here.

Isn't there a big dentistry problem (especially with children) where you grind your teeth while sleeping, gradually degrading the outer layers? They try to make people wear inserts for that.

I dream about either very mundane stuff or very strange stuff. The strange stuff, I almost never remember (probably because I don't try hard enough), and the mundane stuff... I usually remember but it doesn't mean much to me, the only thing I do is wonder how my brain was able to come up with this left to itself.

Moments of violence in my dreams are usually restricted to falling from significant height.

tss: Your brain doesn't render the world; it only renders what it decides to "pay attention" to; and by definition, it can only pay attention to something it already knows how to describe well.
posted by azazello at 5:34 PM on November 8, 2002

Thanks a lot, people. 36 comments about teeth falling out a few hours before I go to bed. Gee, I wonder what I'm going to dream about tonight? Damn you, Metafilter.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:34 PM on November 8, 2002

Once I dreamed Salvador Dali was driving around my school in a motorized bathtub.
posted by konolia at 5:44 PM on November 8, 2002 [1 favorite]

i have had toothy dreams, but then i grind my teeth.
maybe, as human jaws are the wrong size for the number of teeth that we have, we are succeptable to tooth related anxiety dreams.
and dentists.
posted by asok at 6:04 PM on November 8, 2002

It's so rare that I have the standard dreams (falling, flying, teeth falling out, dreams within dreams) that when I occasionally do have one, I wake up and say to myself, "hey, I had the teeth dream!" I actually feel sort of pleased to have experienced the archetype so many people talk about.
posted by hashashin at 6:40 PM on November 8, 2002

ug - my teeth dreams are the worst ones i have.

my teeth sometimes crumble, but more often there's some reason that my jaws are stuck together really, really hard - like i'm biting as hard as i can but can't stop. then in the dream i have to wrench my jaws apart with my hands and my teeth get yanked out by the roots, as if they were stuck on caramel. then i wake up panting and about to cry.

posted by tristeza at 6:50 PM on November 8, 2002

Beck Finley wrote a story about losing teeth.
posted by muckster at 7:06 PM on November 8, 2002

I've had most of those dreams too. Only problem is when I wake up, my front tooth really is loose. The dentist said it was because I was grinding. Its wierded me out for years.
posted by redhead at 8:18 PM on November 8, 2002

I think we're missing the real issue here, which is "why was luser on oxygen's web site?" WELL?
posted by mcsweetie at 9:00 PM on November 8, 2002

I have had the tooth dream MANY times. Another dream that I and others I know have had is the one where you are notified that you didn't really graduate from college. Of the college graduates I know, most tell me they have had this dream at some point or repeatedly.
posted by McBain at 9:54 PM on November 8, 2002

I have consistently had dreams about my teeth falling out for years. All the different kinds too. Sometimes, and this is something no one else mentioned so I'm kinda curious about it, they are really really bloody. To the point where I wouldn't consider it a tooth dream but a blood dream. The tooth comes out, and then a river of blood flows out of my mouth. It's pretty messed up. Other than that, I remember one in particular when my teeth got smashed in and broke in half, and the half that remained in my gums got stuck in my tongue.

As for the interpretations, I don't really buy the worried about appearance approach. Mainly because the circumstances listed in the first link are generally completely different from those in my dreams. I don't know, I have trouble believing that dreams are entirely random and meaningless.
posted by dogwalker at 11:46 PM on November 8, 2002

"why was luser on oxygen's web site?" WELL?

All the cool SENSITIVE kids hang out there
posted by luser at 1:25 PM on November 9, 2002

I've had dreams where my front teeth were loose, but didn't actually fall out. I always figured it was because I have so much anxiety about going to the dentist.

My recurring nightmare that I get when I'm stressed is that a large, slow-moving airplane is falling out of the sky in my direction. I'm not afraid of flying and I've never dreamt of being in a plane crash, but I've had the falling plane dream for years. I guess that's what happens when you grow up in the flight path of an air force base where C-130's and C-141's are constantly landing.
posted by ukamikanasi at 1:35 PM on November 9, 2002

I've never dreamed that my teeth were falling out, but I dream that I'm flying (sans aircraft) almost every time I dream. Which is not as often as I sleep; years of chronic insomnia have left me sleeping without dreams the majority of the time. Given my sleep woes and the nasty dental problems I've had in the last couple of years, I'd just as soon not dream about losing teeth. Give me falling dreams any day.
posted by Dreama at 3:52 PM on November 9, 2002

I've had the teeth dream. I always wake up thinking my teeth are loose (or missing), and it takes a while to reassure myself that they're all there and just fine. Creeps me out, though.
posted by emmling at 7:36 PM on November 9, 2002

My teeth dreams are always the same, but so far undocumented in this thread. It starts out by me picking at something that is stuck in my teeth, like popcorn, for example. The more I pick at it, the more I realize that it isn't popcorn but a piece of string. I pick at it until I can get a fingerhold on the string and then start tugging. The string is wound around my tooth just below the gum line. Sometimes I can unwind a couple of feet of string, and the string is bloody and I am in severe pain. I never remember how the dream ends. I think I probably wake up enough to stop dreaming--it's very realistic and the pain is horrible. I think I have the dream more often than I remember, too.

I wish I knew what it was about. Any ideas, anybody?
posted by ashbury at 7:48 PM on November 9, 2002

I've had a recurring dream where my left hand falls off, and I kinda stick it back on like silly putty and try to use it, but my friends recommend that I go to the doctor for stitches. Ya know, so it heals straight and all.
posted by adampsyche at 8:01 PM on November 9, 2002

I never had this dream until I moved, anybody too? To me it seems I see more missing teeth where I live now and also more perfect teeth. Maybe all the teeth whitening has contributed to my insecurities.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:30 PM on November 10, 2002

Yup, I've had the teeth dream too - mine usually rot and either fall out/I have to smile with rotted teeth and end up never smiling cos I'm too embarrassed.

ukamikanasi - a friend of mine gets the plane crashing dream, although he is usually in the plane as it crashes. I've only ever dreamt of crashing cars, especially when I was little - I'd suddenly have to take over steering the car and would crash into a field/lamp post.
posted by Skaramoosh at 2:59 AM on November 11, 2002

I wish I knew what it was about. Any ideas, anybody?

ashbury - not to be a broken record, but IMO the best way to find out what a recurring dream means is to become lucid within it. That is, when you say (as others have) that you become aware enough to wake yourself up from the nightmare - don't. Once you know it's a dream, there's no need to wake up, because you know it's not really occurring. Instead of coming back to the dayworld just to get the reassuring confirmation, stay in the dream, in the situation with the teeth and the string (or whatever), and start to examine things, calmly and curiously. Look closely at the string, at the tooth material. Ask questions. See if there's anyone around who can answer. Anything that happens will give you much richer clues to what the issue is that has been causing the recurring anxiety dream.

Also, lucid dreaming belies the notion that all dreams are is a way to make narrative sense out of random neuron firings, unless it also works backwards, because when you're lucid you are directing the narrative. There's definitely more there.
posted by soyjoy at 9:34 AM on November 11, 2002

I've never dreamed about my teeth fallng out . . . . The majority of my dreams actually involve me being James Bond and running around gunfighting with badass bad-guys while trying to steal the secret codes. Seriously. They are usually really awesome (the ones I remember, anyway).
posted by josh at 1:12 PM on November 11, 2002

Edwardian engineer J.W. Dunne developed a technique for keeping a "Dream diary" documenting the content of his dreams. He concluded that dreams are jumbled memories but, astonishingly, that they contain as many future 'memories' as past ones. The resulting book, An Experiment with Time elaborates and, of course, neatly explains deja-vu.
posted by grahamwell at 4:53 AM on November 13, 2002

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