Alumnus Continues Family Legacy of Dedication to Dental Excellence
By Kristen Zapata
Some might use the term destiny or calling, but for Ronald K. Crabtree, DDS Class of 1983, the profession of dentistry might have seemed more like a birthright than anything else.
As the grandson, son, and father of dentists, Dr. Crabtree is part of a solid dental dynasty that began in Idaho Falls, Idaho, with his grandfather, an oral surgeon. The senior-most Dr. Crabtree created quite the name for himself as the only oral surgeon serving the region of southeast Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana during his day.
After some time in private practice, Dr. Crabtree’s father, Dr. Larry Crabtree, began working for the U.S. government as a specialist in oral and maxillofacial radiology. His biggest claim to fame was in the 1960s as he helped develop the patent for the Dental X-ray Teaching Training Replica (DXTTR), used to teach radiographic interpretation. The patent was awarded in 1970.
As an active national organization member, Dr. Crabtree’s father was pivotal in his decision to attend the School of Dentistry at UT Health San Antonio.
“He was familiar with the faculty there in San Antonio who were also big into dental radiology in the early 1980s,” he said. “One of the factors that made me say, ‘Hey, San Antonio is a pretty good place’ was that my dad could speak to the reputation of the school. The quality of the gentlemen we knew and that my dad respected helped me to decide, and I’m glad I did.”
Sight unseen, having never been to Texas before, he made his way to San Antonio after earning his undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University.
Today, Dr. Crabtree is part of Crabtree Dental, a family dental practice located in Katy, Texas. Along with his son, Colby B. Crabtree, DDS Class of 2018, and R.T. “Cade” Foust, DDS Class of 2009, Dr. Crabtree offers general and cosmetic dental services to their community. The family legacy continues with son-in-law Aaron Laird, DDS, an orthodontist. The Crabtrees’ daughter, Lauren, runs his orthodontic practice in Houston and Katy, Texas. (Coincidentally, Dr. Ron Crabtree, Dr. Colby Crabtree and Dr. Laird were all trained in school on the DXTTR created by father/grandfather Dr. Larry Crabtree.)
Dr. Crabtree’s wife, Kristy, who manages the dental practice, “made the difference in the success of our practice. She keeps things rolling on the business side, so I can treat the patients and make sure their needs are met. We’ve had a great partnership in marriage and in our business,” he said. In addition, daughter-in-law Talyn Crabtree assists her mother-in-law in managing the dental practice.
Taking his practice’s mission to heart, Dr. Crabtree and his colleagues genuinely seek to “become lifetime partners” in their patients’ oral care by taking a conservative treatment approach.
“I think, ‘Would I want this in my mouth? Would I want this done to my family?’ We use the intraoral camera a lot to show the patient what we see. We have open discussions with our patients, and they learn to trust us. That’s the main thing—gain their trust and do good dentistry.”
Interestingly, good is not nearly good enough for Dr. Crabtree; he strives for better. As an evaluator for the Clinical Research Associates Foundation, he regularly tests the clinical usefulness of new dental products in his office and provides valuable feedback. His passion for lifelong learning has earned him a Fellowship and a Mastership in the Academy of General Dentistry, reflecting well over 1,600 completed hours of continuing education.
This kind of dedication rarely goes unnoticed. For the past six years, Dr. Crabtree has been named a “Top Dentist in General Dentistry” by Houstonia magazine and a “Top Dentist” by USA Top Dentists. They just received word that Crabtree Dental has received the honor of being named a “Neighborhood Favorite” for 2021 by the app Next Door.
For Dr. Crabtree, the accolades are nice, but his patients are his true motivation.
“In the end, the patients are the ones who benefit from the knowledge gained. It’s the drive to be better; I don’t want to be average,” he added.