By Danni Levy
Diamond teeth may not be on your shopping list, but if you’re thinking of popping the question this summer, how about one of these super sparklers?
At first glance, you’d be forgiven for struggling to pinpoint Tom’s profession. Eccentric gemologist with a penchant for lifting heavy objects kinda springs to mind; doesn’t it?
Tom Connelly is in fact, the most expensive dentist in the world. Yes, the diamonds play a role and yes, he’s a keen bodybuilder, but let’s polish the pearly whites before we get to the root canal.
Nestled in a top-secret LA location lies Tom’s dental studio, a regular hangout for the likes of Rhianna, Odell Beckham Jr. and Post Malone.
“The Hollywood smile just isn’t enough for people anymore,” says Tom. “My clients have money, a LOT of money and they’re not afraid to spend it.”
I’d managed to catch up with Tom at a hotel between flights. Having practiced dentistry for twenty-five years, his expertise is nothing short of awe inspiring. Oh, and if you don’t fancy traveling to LA, you can of course pay to fly him by private jet direct to your door.
“I started out doing regular stuff,” says Tom. “But now I’m not doing anything regular at all. I’m in Arizona right now. We did a bunch of stuff last night on a football player at like ten o’clock at night while he was asleep. He had four tattoo artists working on him while I was working on his mouth.
“The whole diamond teeth, diamond embedded veneers, and grills thing have really become this big monster, and we’re tattooing at the same time. I’ve started to share an anesthesiologist with one of the best tattoo artists in the world and we’ve created this marriage between body art and tooth art.
“They’re asleep and then you’ve got four tattoo artists working on your stomach, your back and your legs at the same time,
and then someone drilling down on your teeth and you wake up and half your body’s tattooed and you’ve got a full set of veneers in your mouth with diamonds. It’s really pretty damn cool.”
“Well, a client said to me ‘hey, I’m gonna be asleep anyway so I might as well have my body tattooed’”, says Tom. “He brought his tattoo artist and found it all so easy we decided to do it again with a second tattoo artist and well, the beast just keeps getting bigger. Before you know it people are like ‘yea I want, this, this, this and this. They’re all musicians, athletes, and actors and dropping a couple of hundred thousand dollars on their teeth, sometimes half a million dollars on diamond work, you know maybe another couple of hundred grand in tattoos. Dropping a million bucks to wake up totally made over is not ridiculous anymore. You know, it happens.
“A few years ago I put some diamonds in Odell Beckham Jr. He was playing for the New York Giants at the time. He came to me because someone had glued diamonds to his actual tooth. There was no veneer and the diamond had collected a lot of debris around it and decayed the tooth away. You can’t do it like that, it needs to be flush with the tooth. So we ended up doing some veneer work and embedded the diamond into it so it was flush and didn’t trap any food. Then we did more. We started to improve on that. We but a bezel around it, used bigger diamonds and changed the shape and then before you know it we had a whole system in place.
“When someone comes to me, we do the design. I suggest things to them and most of the time they like it. I try to give each client something unique. At this level, they all want uniqueness. Everybody wants custom. I won’t repeat the same work twice. I might do a skull with red diamonds in the eye, but I won’t do it again.
“We source our diamonds in Israel at a wholesale auction. I have a whole team of cutters in Tel Aviv I work exclusively with and a mechanical engineer who once we know the shape and the space designs a rough draft of what we want the diamond to look like. Then we explore all the different aspects we need to make it reflect perfectly with my master ceramist. Those three working together on the same digital software are able to create this blending of professions. It’s jewelry that has to be bifunctional. Setting this process up wasn’t cheap. It cost half a million dollars just in research and development to get a diamond tooth to work.”
Nobody else does what Tom does. Want a diamond tooth and you’ll need to go knocking on his door with a hefty wad in your pocket.
“The cost is between $700,000 – $1m for a whole tooth to be a diamond and that’s usually cut from about an 18-carat cube,” says Tom. “We start with between 15 and 20 carats of raw diamond and then we have to skin it back. It’s hard to find raw diamonds that big where you can get a nice cut. You have to destroy a lot of the diamond and some cuts are more expensive than others. A 1-carat round is cheaper than a 1-carat pear because to get a 1-carat pear you have to waste a lot of diamond. You may end up with a 10-carat diamond tooth, but we’d have to destroy 10 carats to get there.”
I was devastated. 10 carats of raw diamond obliterated to the point I couldn’t even beg for the off-cuts. 10 carats lost in space. What a waste!
“We use blue diamonds too, which are very expensive, plus gold, platinum, and white gold, says Tom. “Anything you can dream of you can have. Post Malone has spent millions on diamonds. Odell has also spent millions. The diamond veneers have to be insured, if they were to swallow one, or it were to fall out I couldn’t take that hit, but that has never happened. Post has a 20-carat diamond ring, so this is nothing. European soccer players are great clients. They fly me privately and most of my work is remote. They fly me by private jet for an extra twenty grand. We ship all the equipment about thirty days in advance in custom made containers. We have a big team who put it all together. Nobody is doing it better than us. My daughter wants a ruby and my 18-year-old son has a diamond in his side tooth. I’m pretty laid back, I say ‘why not, if you want one I don’t care’”.
If diamonds aren’t your thing, Tom can always sort with you with a set of veneers that are indistinguishable from real teeth.
“Natural is my thing,” he says. “If people want the fake look they can go somewhere else. Even if it’s super white it still looks real. That’s the difference. Nobody can tell my clients have veneers you just can’t tell. I prepare the teeth but my ceramist hand makes the porcelain. They might be the best in the world and they’re very expensive. I charge a lot of money for it. My clients can afford it and they want it.
“A set of veneers done right lasts 25-35 years. When people say they last 7-10 years it’s because they’re cranked out of a machine. Everything we do is fitted perfectly and done by hand. If I don’t like how my work turned out I replace them, even if the client is happy. If something isn’t perfect you have to make it perfect. We strive for excellence.
“I’ve learned humility. Success is in failures and I wasn’t in this place ten years ago. I’ve learned a lot of things over twenty-five years. I have a dedication to excellence.”
There’s only one thing with a better cut than Tom’s diamonds, and that’s his legs! When he’s not working on teeth, he’s working on his physique at 4 am.
“I competed as a 17-year-old and through my early 20’s as an amateur and then went to dental school and just kinda worked out for 30-years,” he says. “Then a few years ago, I hired Brad Rowe for my son who’s a high-level hockey player and he said, ‘Hey man, I’ve seen your shape, you should do a classic physique show’. So I did. I did the USA, won, but I didn’t win the overall. The following year I did it again and won the overall, so now I’m training for the Mexico Pro in July. I’m 220lbs right now and I’m pretty ripped, but I need to get down to 200. If I win that,
I go to the Olympia. To step on that stage would be unbelievable. I’m not going to lose because of something I didn’t do, but my expectations at the Olympia are just to show up. I’ll be 49 and I don’t do it for a living. If I can qualify I’ll probably start to enjoy life a little bit after that. That’s my goal, to qualify and show up.
“I get up at 3:30 am. I gotta go to the gym, shower and eat and get to work for 9 o’clock. I’m done training by 4:30-5 am and I get home by about 5:30 am. I try to get to bed by ten, so I get six or seven hours of sleep.
“I have a wonderful trainer who does my coaching and my meals. Every four days he gives me 20 meals. If it’s not in that little plastic container it doesn’t go in my body. I have a cheat day once a week. I had to have a bagel with every meal plus my pre and post workout last Friday, so I had to eat seven extra bagels and a cheeseburger with fries and two bowls of sugared cereal. I was ready to puke. I’m not tempted to cheat. I couldn’t even get it in- I’m too focused.”
The overwhelming size and striations that make up Tom’s legs resemble a giant willow and he doesn’t even squat!
“We really lay heavy on the leg extensions,” he says. “We start with the extensions and we pre-exhaust, so we do two warm-up sets and I use an electrical stimulation system whilst I work out. I do three super-heavy sets of leg extensions, the whole stack, and I’m done then. We don’t do any free weights, only machines. I don’t need to. I do leg presses with wide feet, then go deeper to hit the hams and glutes, but only three sets with ten plates on each side, then go narrow for three sets. That’s nine sets to failure on legs and then I’m done. We do quads one day and hams a different day. For hams, I do RDLs and two types of hamstring curls. So that’s eighteen sets on two different days; not a lot. The weights take me about an hour, then I do 30 minutes of head down on the bike.
“I do have naturally good legs and good vascularity. I’m fortunate. I mean, I don’t even squat; fuck that!”
Pre-workout- Bagel + 1 oz whey
Post-workout- Bagel + 1 oz whey
1 hour later- Cup of oatmeal with berries, 6 oz red meat and 2 whole eggs
Every 3 hours- 8 0z chicken/beef (a good cut) + 1 cup of rice