During comprehensive twice-a-year dental checkups, the dentist and hygienist not only perform a professional cleaning and health assessment of the patient’s teeth and gums, but they also screen for signs of oral cancer. Also known as “mouth cancer,” these types of cancers include cancers of the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses, and pharynx (throat). If not diagnosed and treated early, these cancers can be life-threatening. Because oral cancer rarely causes pain in its early stages, it is usually only detected by dental professionals, who can spot abnormal cell growth that looks like flat patches. A sore in the mouth that does not heal is the most common symptom of oral cancer.