England and Chelsea's Ben Chilwell with Robbie Hughes
Credit: ROBBIE HUGHES
The high-definition television close-ups on any joyful goal celebrations among the England players against Scotland tomorrow will, for most at least, reveal gleaming white symmetrical teeth which are the new indispensable look for the star footballer on Premier League wages.
Along with private chefs, trusted hairdressers and personal trainers, the latest phenomenon in the gilded world of elite professional football, are cosmetic dentists – and few have been responsible for more famous smiles than Robbie Hughes, a 36-year-old Liverpudlian dentist. It was Hughes who transformed the teeth of Liverpool’s Brazilian Roberto Firmino to a brightness the level of Anfield floodlights, and now many of the England team have sought him out.
Mason Mount, Ben Chilwell, Jack Grealish, Jordan Henderson, Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling are among his clients in the current England Euro 2020 squad and there are many more with his reputation spreading by word of mouth – and the more impressive the mouth the better. Hughes does not just whiten teeth but reconfigure smiles, changing the shape and alignment of teeth according to the kind of smile his famous clientele want.
“It has become very popular with these young guys who have a lot of disposable income,” Hughes says. “Some of them have wives and girlfriends who have work done and recommend me but a lot of the time it is a trend that goes through a team. Ben Chilwell had some work done at Leicester and then after he joined Chelsea I had dinner with him in London and was introduced to Mason and Hakim [Ziyech].”
From the current Liverpool team, Hughes has worked on the unmissable teeth of manager Jurgen Klopp who was so impressed by Firmino’s transformation that he asked for a recommendation. After that Mohamed Salah and Henderson also came to him for treatment.
Roberto Firmino with Robbie Hughes
Credit: ROBBIE HUGHES
At Manchester United, he counts Brazilians Fred and Alex Telles as his patients as well as Jesse Lingard, Rashford, Wales international Daniel James and former players Marcos Rojo and Javier Hernandez. Ross Barkley and James Maddison are also patients. At Manchester City, it is their Brazilian goalkeeper, Ederson.
“In Brazil, cosmetic surgery is very popular and you have some very good clinicians there who have lots of experience,” Hughes says. Having graduated from the University of Liverpool in dentistry, Hughes gained experience at clinics in the United States and Brazil before setting up his own practice, Dental Excellence which has proved so popular that a London clinic is opening soon.
Not everyone goes for the Firmino brilliant white – a shade so bright it was not even on the original colour pallet offered to him by Hughes. His famous clients tend to have one of three treatments, starting with composite bonding, a more conservative way of sculpting the shape, size and symmetry of the teeth. For those who want a bigger change there are porcelain veneers. Many players also wear discreet braces – a clear tray that is changed every week to a new fit that pulls the teeth into line.
Hughes says that he warns his patients about the dangers of high glucose drinks and gels that players take to keep energy levels up during performance. “It’s a big sugar intake to keep your metabolism going,” he says. “That can be quite damaging to the teeth if they are taken at a high frequency and that is likely if they are training twice a day.”
Needless to say, he speaks for many dentists in applauding Cristiano Ronaldo’s recommendation of water over fizzy drinks. “Absolutely fantastic,” he said. “The younger generation will definitely listen to Cristiano when he says that much more than they might their dentists.”
He has the agreement of his famous patients to say that he works with them although he will not disclose the nature of an individual’s treatment. Which England player would he like to work on next? “I would love to do Declan Rice,” he says. “I could do something good for him.”
Footballers have always invited scrutiny for their looks, especially in the age of high-definition television when a thinning crown of hair or wonky teeth can invite comment on social media. Famous they might be, but the current generation feel an unkind remark as keenly as any other.
“Footballers see themselves on television all the time,” Hughes says, “so they are used to evaluating their appearance and what they would like to change. But now in the current era with so many people working on Zoom calls we spend all day looking at ourselves – what we like and what we don’t like. The demand for cosmetic work has gone through the roof.”