Picture the show “Dancing with the Stars” – right down to the judges’ panel and the mirror ball trophies – but with local dental professionals who trained with their dance pros for nearly a year.

Six dentists began dance lessons last May with the expectations of competing in a charity fundraiser in late October. After the mass shooting in Lewiston, the event was rescheduled for April 6 at Italian Heritage Center in Portland – and Lewiston’s Maine Resiliency Center was added to the list of nonprofit beneficiaries.

With nearly six months additional prep time, the dance pros were able to increase the difficulty level, with several dentists earning perfect 10s from the judges panel.

“This is impressive,” said Samantha Ridgeway, whose company, Southern Maine Oral Surgery, sponsored a table.

After an ensemble chacha that introduced the dancers to the audience, Dr. Adam Saltz of Corey & Then and pro Donyelle Werner opened the pairs competition dancing to “Johnny’s Mambo” from “Dirty Dancing.” Just like on the television show, Saltz’s fan base waved paddles with his photo on them.

“Competing at this event is a rite of passage in our practice,” Saltz said. “And it’s fun to try something different.”


Werner returned later with Dr. Adonis Karagiorgos of Falmouth Dental Arts, who commanded the dance floor with a tango and paso doble to “El Tango De Roxanne” from “Moulin Rouge.”

Werner’s husband, Alex Ivanov, also competed with two dentists: Dr. Vani Mallipeddi of Biddeford Family Dentistry in a bolero to “Love Is a Crime” from “Chicago” and Dr. Melissa Hamel of Seacoast Dentistry in a swing-and-jive mashup to “Do You Love Me?” from “Dirty Dancing.”

Hamel, the top-scoring female dentist, took home one of the two coveted mirror ball trophies.

“I hadn’t done anything extracurricular since having kids,” she said, “and this is something I’ve been doing for fun, for myself, and for my community.”

The top-scoring male was Biddeford dentist Dr. Drew Rodney, who danced a Broadway number to “Hot Honey Rag” from “Chicago” with instructor Kate Marchessault.

“It was a trust fall,” he shrugged, “and I decided to have fun with it.”


The fundraising champion – or Audience Favorite – was Dr. Anna Sweet of Sweet Dental in Scarborough, who tangoed with dance pro Sergei Slussky to “Phantom of the Opera.”

With dozens of corporate sponsors and silent auction donors, the event raised over $8,500 for the Maine Resiliency Center and $20,000 to be divided between the original nonprofit beneficiaries – Veggies to Table, The Root Cellar and Mainely Teeth.

Mainely Teeth founder Amber Lombardi said, “This will enable us to continue patient care, expand outreach to the rest of Maine and support our school-based oral health programs.”

Dancing with the Dentists is anticipated to return for “season 5” in 2026.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at amyparadysz@gmail.com.

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