Sometimes you may wake up, possibly with jaw pain, and wonder if you’ve been clenching and/or breaking your teeth in your sleep. Alternatively, you may be dreaming about such things with jaw pain when you awake, and may be wondering what such dreams mean.
Dreams About Clenching And Breaking Teeth
There is increasing evidence suggesting tooth-dropping nightmares can be a good indicator of whether or not an individual is grinding their teeth at night. It is also possible that teeth falling out dreams are leading to teeth grinding or tightening, which later causes dental irritation.
While the data is not yet sufficient to be definitive, it is possible that teeth grinding dreams caused teeth grinding, which was subsequently associated with dental irritation upon waking. This means that teeth dreams can lead to teeth grinding, which in turn produces dental irritation upon awakening.
Sleep disruptions may cause teeth grinding, and that can result in occasional dreams where teeth are knocked out. If we are thinking backwards on this, then you should consider dreams of teeth falling out to be a trigger for asking your dentist about tooth grinding, not just tooth grinding, but also sleep apnea.
If you have dreams where you have teeth falling out, and upon awakening, feel ache or strain in your jaw, then you may have been clenching or grinding teeth during your sleep, in which case you may need to visit a Dentist.
Ask your GP or Dentist if he/she has noticed any signs of teeth grinding, and also whether dreaming about teeth falling out might be related to sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). While I would not take my cumulative observations to warrant that teeth falling out (TFO) dreams means that you are grinding, I would recommend asking your Dentist if they notice signs of teeth wearing down or receding gums indicating that grinding is occurring at night.
Based on what I have seen (and this is an empirical observation, not rigorously reviewed research), I think tooth-dropping dreams are generally, or completely, common among patients who are grinding. One of those dreams involves teeth falling out, and it is thought to mostly stem from psychological stress.
Teeth Falling Out Dreams
One is that teeth-falling dreams arise from real-life dental discomfort, such as teeth grinding, experienced while sleeping. The authors suggested two potential hypotheses: either teeth dreams are related to actual dental distress such as teeth grinding experienced during sleep, or teeth dreams are more metaphorically related to factors that contribute to psychological distress.
The other, however, is in line with studies showing sensory stimuli may be translated into dream content. Naama Rozen and Soffer-Dubek (2018) found that teeth-dropping dreams were associated with dental discomfort when awakening, but were not associated with self-reported teeth grinding.
By looking at a broad swath of individuals who reported experiencing teeth falling or breaking off in the dream, the new research finds a strong correlation between teeth falling out dreams and real-world dental distress. The possibility that many people are grinding their teeth, even though they are unaware of it, could explain the prevalence of teeth dreams (TDs), if in fact they are related to dental discomfort. In particular, because people are often unaware of their habits to grind or clench their teeth while sleeping, TD could possibly function as a marker for undiagnosed Bruxism, and therefore could be used by dentists as a tool to screen dental problems.
This is also consistent with correlational research showing that individuals with teeth dreams also have more frequent other typical somatosensory dreams, such as falling, being chased, or flying (Yu, 2010), suggesting these individuals may typically have greater somatosensory stimulation in the dream. A more recent study published in 2018 looking at the correlation between teeth tension and having teeth dreams found that people experiencing sleep bruxism–a sleep disorder which causes individuals to have episodes of grinding their teeth during their sleep–do indeed experience more teeth-related dreaming.
According to the ICD-2 diagnostic criteria for sleep-related bruxism (American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 2005), irritation, stimulation, or teeth tension in the dream state can be considered as an indicator of teeth grinding or clenching. A common condition, such as teeth grinding or clenching, is a type of motor disturbance occurring during sleep. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which involves frequent waking up from an airway closing during sleep, may also cause teeth grinding and odd dreams.
This is hardly grand science, but the cost to entertain a possible connection between falling tooth dreams and teeth grinding, or indeed, OSA, is nil. Problems are rare with grinding of your baby teeth, but it certainly causes tiredness, aching jaw, teethaches, and faulty movement of your teeth. Teeth grinding occurs anytime that a person talks or murmurs while sleeping, acts violently while sleeping like hitting or kicking, experiences paralysis while sleeping, and has hallucinations.
Factors like stress, anxiety, sleep apnea, alcohol intake, smoking, caffeine, snoring, and fatigue are the typical causes of teeth grinding, according to doctors. Your dreams may try to tell you that you need to watch out for what comes out of your mouth, because once it is gone, just like teeth, you cannot get it back.
Most such dreams revolve around teeth falling out in your hands, teeth starting to decay, growing out crooked, or falling out each time, just with a little bit of prodding. Be sure to talk with your children and assure them that their teeth are actually safe, and it takes time for new adult teeth to grow.
If you find yourself grinding or clenching your teeth during your sleep, make sure you check out customized nightguards before purchasing one through your dentist.
Rozen, N., & Soffer-Dudek, N. (2018). Dreams of Teeth Falling Out: An Empirical Investigation of Physiological and Psychological Correlates. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 1812.
Yu, C. K. C. (2010). Recurrence of typical dreams and the instinctual and delusional predispositions of dreams. Dreaming, 20(4), 254.