Hip-Hop is forever growing and expanding since its inception. And while grills have always been a staple in rap culture, it seems there’s a new trend happening in 2023: placing permanent diamonds in your teeth.
Insert Lil Yachty, who recently got $1,050,000 worth of diamonds drilled permanently into his mouth. The genius behind the project is a man named Thomas Connelly, who has been deemed the “Father of Diamond Dentistry.” Connelly shared a clip to his own social media page of Yachty’s dental impression, confirming the two diamond teeth on his upper premolars amounted to 16 carats.
Connelly was the first person to start the trend of putting permanent diamonds in teeth, with his first client being rap superstar Post Malone. He takes pride in being the first person to start this trend, later working on superstars such as Offset, Odell Beckham Jr., Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Brown, Da Baby, and more.
One look at Connelly, and it’s hard to believe he’s a dentist, given his physique and tattoos.
“I’m that guy that’s a complete mystery when you meet me, “ Connelly states with a laugh. “It’s funny, people always feel like they’re meeting somebody famous. People always ask ‘what do you do?!’ It’s almost always the same thing: UFC fighter.”
Which isn’t too far off. Connelly is a professional bodybuilder who competes and wins competitions. But he’s also a dentist, which sometimes blows people’s minds when they hear it.
The Source spoke with Thomas Connelly to discuss his background, being the first to do permanent diamond fangs on Post Malone, Lil Yachty reaching out, doing Offset’s teeth,
You’re a dentist and a bodybuilder. What came first?
The dentistry. I worked out when I was a kid, dabbled in working out and lifting weights. Really became a professional bodybuilder later in life after becoming a dentist.
Where are you from, and how’d you get your start?
I grew up in Detroit, Michigan. Went to dentist school in Detroit, then picked up my stuff and moved to the East Coast. New York, Boston, practiced there for a while. Moving to Los Angeles will be a decade later.
When you pick up the Father of Diamond Dentistry?
I did some work with Post Malone about five years ago. We permanently installed diamonds in his fangs. I’m the first person to really do that. Rolling Stone did an article and it really stuck. If you Google it, it’s everywhere.
You were the first ones to permanently put diamonds in teeth?
Yeah, consistently on a regular basis. Not just doing it, meaning doing it where it’s retained. It’s cleansable, it functions, and it’s a piece of Art. It’s not something we threw in the mouth and hoped it worked. We did a lot of research and development to curate a beautiful result.
Was it nerve-racking? Because it’s permanent.
We failed a lot in the laboratory setting. We wasted between a million and two million dollars worth of diamonds, testing. Initially we were putting little diamond shapes, recessing them within the veneer. I was really the first person to do that. When you feel your veneer, it was smooth, but there’d be a diamond heart in it. When we met Post Malone, I was with my diamond cutter, Isaac from Angel City Jewelers. I was in Madison Square Garden, and we showed them all kinds of cool stones. They do all these skull shapes. Post said let’s do the whole tooth in diamonds. Isaac’s like, “of course we can do it!”
How did you link with Post Malone?
Such a good question. [laughs] I was pretty heavy in the model world. I performed dentistry on a lot of beautiful women, a lot of NFL players and sports players at that point in my career. I wanted to push my services into different industries other than modeling and sports, so we began to focus on the music industry. I ran into Dre in London. “Hey Dre, this is what I do…” and he goes “Yeah, every dentist wants to do Post’s teeth. I’ll put you on the list.” They had signed a new artist named Tyla Yaweh. I said hey, you just signed Tyla. His teeth look terrible, I’ll do his teeth for free.
Dre said, “Alright, we’ll do that.” So that moved me to the front of the line. When I met Tyla, Tyla was a wreck. [laughs] We fully restored his mouth. I said bro when I’m done with you, you gotta introduce me to Post. Because he was the opening act for Post on tour. He said “I can do that,” and he did. It changed dentistry. As crazy as that sounds, up until that point, there wasn’t anybody doing really crazy stuff or anything outside the envelope. It spread like wildfire. We started on one level and now it’s even bigger stones. More stones, more expensive stones. It was one million, $2 million, $3 million. It’s a beast.
Veneers aren’t cheap. When you were offering that to Tyla, you were down for the investment?
$100 grand. I’ve been doing this 26 years, that’s all I do.
How did you link with Lil Yachty?
He hit me on Instagram. A lot of these guys hit me on IG, it’s so frequent. He said “Bro, I gotta have this.” I said sweet, let’s do it. Where are you at this week? He gave me his schedule. I said, I’ll hit you in Austin. Literally jumped on a plane the next day. Flew to Austin, he had a show. I went to his show, went to his hotel room. I measured his teeth, took some permanent impressions. Booked him 3 weeks later in LA, we did it. Started his tour, we finished.
That’s really how it’s done. I’m willing to travel and do whatever. Usually the first meeting is hey, we get the preliminary impressions. We talk the numbers, we have sample stones. That usually closes the deal. That makes it organized, because it’s real. Who pays the bills? I send them an invoice before we start. I need approval. This is all from experience. [laughs]
Talk about the process of putting the diamonds in Lil Yachty’s mouth. $1 million is insane!
It’s just under $1.1 million, $1.05 million . It’s based on the size of the karats, and color of the stones. He’s a tough case because we started with bigger stones and had to trim them down. He’s supposed to be 20 karats, I just couldn’t get it in there. So he’s 16 carats.
How long did it take?
When he comes in, the first procedure is a couple of hours. 3 or 4 weeks later, once it’s all ready, we install it. It takes me an hour.
Why do people want them permanently?
If you saw it, you’d know. It hits hard. He’s a smiley guy. He’s one of the most electric human beings I’ve ever met in my life. When he smiles, those stones just glisten. You look at it, literally: what is that? Do it again! The reason it’s become so popular is because it is absolutely stunning. It is not a gimmick. It’s legit, it looks good. It just fits. The thing that seems to be working: behind the eye teeth, we put two rounds – two custom clusters on each side. That seems to hit. That hits real hard.
Talk about the bond you guys share, I saw he called you “my brother for life.”
We hit it off. He posted that. We were gonna do a funny skit, but didn’t have enough time. We had a good time. Texted here and there, “whatsupp.” “Hey, I’m going to be here. Stop by the show.” I do develop bonds with a lot of the guys. Like Gunna, I’m tight with Gunna. Post. Shaq.
What did you do for Shaq?
I did Shaq’s whole mouth of veneers, and did some grills for him. It’s cool. It’s really fun to be able to provide beautiful work, creative work. And really like the people you like. I’ve even considered limiting my practice to just men.
Oh wow. Why?
Because I enjoy what I do so much with all these athletes, singers. Once in a while, you get a glamorous, beautiful woman in there and it’s such a different gear. I’m very good at it, but you reach the point where you only want to do a certain type of work. Women cosmetic dentistry is a different business.
Talk about doing Offset’s teeth also.
I have so much respect for Offset. Love Offset, this is Offset’s stuff right here. [points to shirt] That Offset and Travis Scott song “SAVE YOUR GRACE,” is so fire. You watch him, because Offset’s case was so complicated. I saw him while he’s recording his album. He gives you some snippets about the song. He posted his teeth, the final product. You feel like man, I was there.
How do you find time to work out and do dentistry?
I limit my patients to one a day. I’ll have somebody come in at 10am. Post came at noon yesterday, we went to 8pm. It’s me and him, we screw around. I worked out at 7am or 8am. Ate breakfast, ate lunch. We worked. I went home, had dinner with my kids. Put my kids to bed, so it’s a full day. I have an advantage over a regular dentist: “Oh, we have 50 patients today. 20 hygiene patients a week. A crown, this and that.” Me, I got one guy. And my fees reflect my experience; I’m very blessed.