Bleeding gums can be a sign of either dental or medical concerns. Your dentist or medical doctor can help determine the cause and refer you to the other if they feel there's cause for alarm. The most common and least worrisome reason for bleeding gums is due to toothbrush bristles being too hard, brushing that's too vigorous, or using a toothpick instead of floss. A buildup of plaque or tarter can also cause bleeding which can often be eliminated with flossing or a professional cleaning. If you're new to flossing or don't floss regularly, you may notice a slight bleeding of your gums which is a sign of gum disease. As you start to floss on a regular basis the bleeding and gum disease should stop. If you have any concerns, contact your dentist. Gingivitis (jihn-jih-VYE-tihs) is an advanced form of gum disease that's also characterized by bleeding. Gingivitis is a more extreme buildup of plaque that can only be removed through professional cleanings, scaling, and the use of special dental instruments at home. Healthy gums are pink; gums infected with gingivitis are a dark red. More adult teeth are lost to gingivitis than to tooth decay. Consequently, should you notice a change in the coloring of your gums, contact your dentist. Good oral hygiene habits are instrumental in preventing and recovering from bleeding gums. Applying pressure with a gauze pad soaked in ice water can bring temporary relief; however, bleeding gums are a sign that decay may be present and professional care is needed.