Tartar Broke Off While Flossing: How Does It Happen?

March 30, 2023

Although flossing is a tedious task, there’s just something about the way your teeth feel after — all squeaky clean and free of food, that makes it all worth it. But sometimes, improper flossing can cause the tartar on the back of your teeth to fall away.

This can seem scary at first but don’t worry. In most cases, the small, tooth-like yellow chunk is nothing more than tartar that broke off your tooth while flossing. To find out why this happens and what you should do after, keep on reading this blog.

What Is Tartar?

Tartar, also known as calculus, is a hardened version of plaque. It forms on the surface of your teeth due to bacteria, saliva, and leftover food. Essentially, it is the lack of proper oral hygiene that causes the bacteria to invade your teeth and settle into the nooks and crannies of your mouth.

If you’ve ever noticed a waxy, slimy coating on your teeth, that’s bacteria right there, mixed in with your saliva. This thin coating is known as plaque and can easily be cleaned away with the help of brushing and flossing your teeth. However, if the plaque is left as is, it can gradually harden and permanently attach itself to your teeth.

This, ultimately, leads to tartar formation. That is to say, when plaque solidifies, it starts gaining color, making the affected teeth appear yellow. Tartar also disrupts the texture of your teeth, making them bulky and uneven.

Tartar Broke Off Teeth While Flossing, Is It Possible?

Yes, definitely. Albeit hard, it is not impossible for tartar to separate from your teeth. Not to mention, given how firmly-rooted tartar is, removing it can be extremely difficult, especially if you do not have the proper tools. However, string flossing is a method that can cause tartar to break off. This is a sign that the tartar is not yet fully mature and needs time to connect to the tooth.

Maturation is the stage where tartar slowly starts to cement itself to your teeth. Typically, this takes around 10 days once the plaque has evolved into tartar. During this time, tartar is soft and can be pried away through certain movements. Thus, if you floss with a waxed string, the string might get caught between the tartar and your tooth, causing it to break apart from the enamel.

Chipped Tooth vs. Tartar Breaking Off

When tartar breaks off, it doesn’t leave behind a smooth surface. If anything, your tooth might feel like it was chipped or cracked due to all the sharp edges there may be.

Moreover, if a large piece of tartar broke off or if the tartar that chipped was on the back of your tooth, chances are, you might not even recognize it. Since it was at the back, it can be tough to identify whether you chipped a tooth or it was tartar that fell off.

Nonetheless, in most cases, if you feel ragged or sharp edges on your tooth, it could very well be due to the tartar snipping off. However, for proper evaluation and diagnosis, visit your dentist.


While not uncommon, if your tartar broke off while flossing, it’s crucial to have it assessed by your family dentist. Leaving the exposed tooth could invite bacteria, leading to cavities and potential dental infections. For insights on treatment and preventive measures, reach out to Family Dentist Spring at (281) 350-5600 for expert guidance. Should you wish to schedule a visit, you’ll find us at 21212 Kuykendahl Rd E, Spring, TX 77379, conveniently situated between Game Stop and Tutti Frutti Yogurt Bar.


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