The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, September 10, 2000
Dream theme

Significance of teeth
By Vinaya Katoch Manhas

"Grandma what big teeth you have?"
"To eat you with my dear"

POOR Red Riding Hood had the scare of her life at the sight of those fangs. equally frightening for humans is to dream of losing their teeth, seeing them fall, or to suddenly find themself toothless.

Everyone has had such a dream occasionally. According to astrology, too see oneís teeth fall off or being removed, predicts a gain in fortune and health. In fact, even now in many households to put the milk teeth that has fallen off under a childís pillow is a common practice to ward off evil.

To dream of washing and cleaning your teeth foretells of lots of a prolonged struggle in order to preserve your fortune. To see a denture being made, denotes several obstacles in the path, but they will be overcome. To see teeth decaying and dirty is a warning about ill-health and personal losses.


According to Freud, your mouth represents your family and seeing teeth fall off partways wishing ill of someone. Jung believed that dreams due to dental stimulation in case of women have a significance as paturition dreams. E. Jones confirmed this Stekel saw removing of teeth among boys as symbolising the fear of castration.

With so many different interpretations, which particular one applies to a dream about teeth? I had earlier pointed out that the interpretation of symbols psychoanalytically, differs according to the background, age and sex of the dreamer as well as the context of the dream. Psychoanalytical interpretation of dreams is more applicable to those dreams which are either repetitive in nature or create a lot of mental tension for the person.

For example, take this dream of a 38-year-old man. "Since my teens, I have on and off had this dream in which I see my teeth falling off when I touch them. A lot of blood oozes out of them."

Such a dream definitely has more psychological significance rather than an astrological one.

The oozing of blood and the repetitive nature of the dream required a thorough psychoanalysis. After several sittings with the patient and having met and spoken with his family too, and having enquired about his past, it was discovered that the patient had been given a fear that in case he touched a private part of his anatomy (which was socially taboo) the part would rot away and fall. Such a theory used by parents is not uncommon in a highly moralistic society like ours. This fear had developed into a concrete fear within the childís mind. Although as a man now he does not recall any such incident from his past, yet the fear still exists within his unconscious. This fact about his childhood was revealed by his mother in one of the sittings. This fear was represented in his dream in the form of falling teeth. After the reason was disclosed, the dreams stopped.

In a similar manner, Freudís theory of falling teeth representing wishing a family member ill. This theory is quite close to the interpretation of the death wish dreams. Consciously, the person does not wish anyone ill.

But sub-consciously, due to particular incident up feelings of hostility which get potrayed in dreams through such symbols, flare up.

Thus the role of your subconscious in dreams is very important. a lot of hidden facets of your disturbed past experiences and the personality come to the fore.