Dreams are one of the oldest and most intriguing mysteries of human existence. According to a paper by J. Donald Hughes, Professor of History at the University of Denver, “early human beings had several different ideas concerning what dreams are, they seem always to have invested dreams with great significance.” He also notes that dreams were important in Native American society, Mayan culture, ancient Egyptian mythology, and the Bible, to name a few. Despite their long history and the fact that nearly every person experiences them, there is still a lot we don’t understand about dreams. While some invest great meaning in dreams, others believe they are utterly inconsequential. The only thing we can say with much certainty about dreams is that they are fascinating, which has led many experts to craft theories and ideas that could provide some insight.
Many people have dreams related to their teeth and mouths. Our patients often ask us about a very specific dental dream. Have you ever dreamt that your teeth were crumbling or falling out? You’re not alone. Although this dream can be unnerving, it typically has nothing to do with your dental health. In the following blog, we help you decipher this nightmare and provide our tips to prevent it from ever becoming a reality.
In your nightmare, your teeth begin to deteriorate, disintegrate, or even fall out. You watch as your once-whole smile falls to pieces, leaving naked gums behind. When you wake up, you feel restless, nervous, and worried. Perhaps you put your hand to your mouth or run to the bathroom mirror just to make sure your teeth are still there. Of course they are, but you’re left wondering: why did I ever dream that?
Scientists have studied sleep and dreaming extensively, but there is no definitive way to interpret the meaning of everyone’s dreams. However, some psychologists have crafted concepts and hypotheses that could help you understand them a little better.
Some believe that the dream about teeth crumbling or falling out is caused by a loss of power or control over a situation. Has something happened in your personal or professional affairs that you feel powerless to stop? Are you feeling anxiety over a loss of control in your life? There’s a chance you might have this dream during one of those times.
Others, however, think that teeth crumbling or falling out is a sign that you may have said something you now regret. Did you recently divulge a secret, gossip, or criticize someone? Do you wish you could take it back? Your mind may be processing this event and your remorse about the situation may be reflected in your dream.
For another perspective, Dream Dictionary explains that “teeth as a symbol might imply inner aspects of ourselves that we don’t recognize,” so “possibly the ego is being provoked or challenged.” Furthermore, Dream Dictionary notes: “teeth falling [out] suggest a lack of support internally and you might be having trouble holding things together that [were] once strong in you.”
As these varying interpretations indicate, it’s nearly impossible to decide exactly what any given dream means, including this common nightmare about crumbling teeth. Given that there are many different perspectives on this dream, it’s probably best not to consider it especially meaningful. Ultimately, it may mean nothing, and it certainly isn’t an indicator of your oral health. Of course, since dreams are so personal, it’s up to you to decide.
If you have this nightmare, you’re familiar with what it feels like to damage your teeth in dreams, but did you know that you may also be harming your teeth in actuality while you sleep? While you might not realize it, you could be one of the millions of Americans who suffer from bruxism, or teeth grinding. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 8 percent of adults suffer from sleep-related bruxism, which refers to clenching during sleep. Furthermore, as the Academy of General Dentistry notes, “most people with bruxism are not aware of the condition,” so if you are experiencing bruxism at night, you’re likely oblivious to the problem.
If you do suffer from sleep-related bruxism, this could cause jaw pain, neck pain, headache, gum problems, earache, tooth sensitivity, and toothache. Grinding can also lead to deterioration, causing your enamel to break, chip, fracture, or wear down (somewhat similar to the kind of crumbling in the nightmare). Although it’s not a definitive sign, if you’re having dreams about tooth damage, there’s a chance this is because your mind is feeling the effects of your nighttime grinding.
While you may not know if you’re grinding or not, Dr. Craig Armstrong can help you determine if you suffer from sleep-related bruxism. He can spot the signs of harmful clenching before they cause you more serious issues. At your biannual examination and cleaning, he will assess the shape, condition, and function of your teeth and jaw. If he notices any symptom of bruxism, our Houston dental team can create a custom-fitted night guard or offer another treatment solution to help you relax your jaw at night, get more restful sleep, and enjoy a healthier smile. If you’re having nightmares about your teeth crumbling and it’s been more than six months since you’ve seen us, this is an excellent reminder to schedule an appointment.
Whether or not you’ve ever had a nightmare about crumbling teeth, you probably want to do all you can to avoid this fate and preserve your pearly whites. Unfortunately, while the dream is merely a nighttime vision, many Americans suffer through actual tooth loss. The American College of Prosthodontists (ACP) reports: “it is estimated that 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth and about 40 million Americans are missing all of their teeth. As we age, the problem gets worse as 30 percent of adults between 65-74 years old have no natural teeth.”
Fortunately, there are key actions you can take to maintain your teeth. The ACP explains, “the most common reasons for losing a tooth, multiple teeth, or all of your teeth is dental decay (cavities), gum and bone disease, or trauma.” You can safeguard your smile by brushing twice a day, flossing daily, using mouthwash, and coming to see Dr. Armstrong for regular visits. Since dental conditions tend to worsen if left untreated, it’s important that you address any oral health symptoms as soon as you notice it. Being proactive and taking the right steps to defend your dental health can help you keep your teeth intact.
While the common dental dream we’ve discussed above is undoubtedly a nightmare, dreams can also be quite positive. If you want to enjoy a dazzling, dreamy smile, Dr. Armstrong and our team can help you enhance your teeth. Our Houston practice offers a wide range of cosmetic dentistry services. For example, teeth whitening can help remove stains and brighten your smile. As a more advanced option, porcelain veneers can immediately address a multitude of aesthetic imperfections, instantly straightening and whitening your teeth. In addition, if you do suffer the loss of a tooth, Dr. Armstrong can help fill this gap with a beautiful, natural-looking porcelain fixed bridge. Our Houston team would be thrilled to perform a Smile Analysis and create a personalized treatment plan to improve your smile.
If you’d like to ward off dental nightmares, keep your teeth healthy, and enjoy a more gorgeous smile, Dr. Armstrong can help. To learn more about your oral health and schedule an appointment, contact us today!