Dreams. They can be scary. The monster is chasing you but you can't scream. A friend is talking to you, but you can't see them. Or how about this gem, the dream that we've all had every now and then: Your teeth falling out.
There's just nothing worse than waking up in a hot sweat because you've been dreaming about a crooked smile. Your hand flies to your mouth in a panic just to make sure everything is perfect – or at least as straight it was when you went to bed. But we shouldn't ignore our dreams – they all have a meaning! So what do our toothy nightmares have to say about ourselves? We'll tell you!
What does it mean?
Teeth falling out in your dreams? Typically, this means you've got some anxiety! Dream experts and psychologists alike say this specific type of stress comes from a transition period. Perhaps you've recently moved to a new city, or you've changed jobs, this can trigger some rather stressful dreams. And because your teeth are one of the only parts of your body that don't change – once you've gotten your adult teeth, at least – they are what your body perceives as a constant.
We don't want anything to happen to our teeth because it would likely be permanent damage. But here's the catch-22: the more stress you have, the more likely it is that you're going to hurt your teeth.
Why anxiety is bad for your teeth
When you wake up from that terrible teeth dream, do you also notice that your jaw is a little sore? This is because when you have anxiety, a common symptom is to clench your jaw, grinding your teeth together as you sleep. This is otherwise known as bruxism – an issue that can lead to temporomandibular joint problems (aka TMJ) and worn down tooth enamel. In serious cases, harsh grinding can even result in loss of teeth. When it gets this bad, you're at risk for cavities and root canals, which are no fun.
Anxiety can also cause a dry mouth.
To note, anxiety can even cause a dry mouth, as stress can reduce the production of saliva in your mouth. You need saliva to wash away bacteria and help protect teeth from cavities. Is all this talk about stress stressing you out? Unclench that jaw and keep reading – we won't let you go without a solution in mind!
How can you protect your teeth
You might not even know you're stressed out, but if you have a dream like this just have an honest conversation with yourself to sort out what might be bothering you. Perhaps this means setting up an appointment with a psychiatrist to help you find a way to deal with your stresses. But you should absolutely see a dentist in the mean time, otherwise you could be doing some serious damage to your teeth.
If you're facing a serious grinding problem, your dentist can get you fitted with a mouth guard as well as other solutions to any anxiety-related problems you might be facing. In the more serious cases, you might need to be fitted for a new tooth, or even dentures.
However, on the off chance that this is a stress dream about missing a dentist appointment, or feeling insecure about your smile, schedule a visit with us at City Dentists and get your teeth checked out! We can do everything from just a casual checkup, to dental emergencies if your teeth grinding has become a big problem.