Larry Caldwell, D.D.S and Associates – A Special Place for Special People

Dr. Larry Caldwell. Photo by Nesossi Studios.

Dr. Larry Caldwell. Photo by Nesossi Studios.

FOCUS COVER STORY | By Trish Johnson –

After more than 30 years, Dr. Larry Caldwell still has a quick step and warm smile when he sets out for his Sugar Land dental office each workday morning.  “I still enjoy it as much today as I did the first day I went into practice,” he said. “I love everything about my work.”

The best part of his job, the pediatric dentist admitted, is his patients. “I really like the kids,” Caldwell grinned.  “I’ve been in practice long enough to see a lot of my patients grow up, and that’s remarkable. There’s nothing like watching the kids grow up.”

Committed to Care

According to his patients, their parents and his own staff, Caldwell is a pediatric dentist extraordinaire, capable of slaying cavity dragons with one hand, eliciting giggles out of reluctant patients with the other, and all while teaching good dental health and hygiene. “He’s absolutely fabulous, and his office is a fabulous office,” Jodie Reichardt stated. “I was a dental hygienist for 15 years, and I’ve never taken my kids anywhere else.”

The Reichardt family’s association with Caldwell began when her oldest child, 20-year-old daughter Sydney, had just turned three-years-old. “Her doctor said it was time to take her to the dentist, so I started asking around,” Reichardt said. “Everyone told me I had to take her to Dr. Caldwell.”

When her two sons, Reid, now 16, and Ross, now 12, came along and were ready to see a dentist, they followed their sister into Caldwell’s dental chair. “They’ve always loved going to Dr. Caldwell,” Reichardt said. “He is one of the few people I can feel comfortable with enough to send my children in to get work done. He speaks to the children on their level and to me on a adult level,” Reichardt explained. “He has the ability – the personality and demeanor – to talk to both children and adults. He talks on an age-appropriate level.”

More than a routine dentist, Caldwell has cared for Reichardt’s children for a variety of dental needs throughout the years. “We’ve worked with Dr. Caldwell from everything from teeth cleaning and annual checkups to having him make mouth guards for the kids when they play sports.”

Along those lines not too long ago, Reichardt also found out her children’s dentist would always be there in an emergency, as well. “Ross plays baseball,” Reichardt related. “One Friday night about 6:30, I found myself calling Dr. Caldwell in a panic, crying into the phone, because Ross had just been hit square in the mouth with a baseball. Dr. Caldwell calmed me down and met us at his office to examine Ross’ mouth and perform the necessary treatment.  Imagine that – on a Friday night!”

According to Reichardt and others, Caldwell is noted not only for the excellent care he gives his patients, but also for his commitment. “He is absolutely committed to his patients,” said Reichardt, “and his compassion for kids is great.  I recommend him to people all the time.”

Team Caldwell

The front office staff at Larry Caldwell, D.D.S. & Associates: Cindy Maldonado, Amy Reilly, Misty Gonzales and Paula Kitzmiller.

The front office staff at Larry Caldwell, D.D.S. & Associates: Cindy Maldonado, Amy Reilly, Misty Gonzales and Paula Kitzmiller.

Caldwell is assisted in his practice by dental hygienists, certified assistants and even front office staff with whom he has a long association, a fact Caldwell believes helps make his patients and their families feel at home when they walk in the door. “His staff is great, too,” said Reichardt.” He has long-term employees who know your name, not because they have your chart in front of them, but because they honestly care. They make the extra effort. They know what we talked about the last time we were there, and they remember the things the kids are interested in.” For Caldwell, finding the right staff is part of making his patients comfortable. “I can’t be everywhere,” he said. “I have to depend on the staff.  We have a staff member who’s been with me over 30 years. The kids come in and see the same faces all the time, and the kids feel comfortable. That familiar face for the kids, that’s so important.

Caldwell received his undergraduate degree from Baylor University in Waco and is a graduate of the University Health & Science Center in Houston where he taught for nine months before going on to a two-year residency at the University of Texas Dental School.  At that time, Caldwell noted, the pediatric dentistry residency program was based out of Texas Children’s Hospital.  Caldwell received a fellowship in the Academy of Pediatric Dentistry in 1997. He is also a member of the American Dental Association, Greater Houston Dental Association and the Texas Dental Association.  He has been consistently named “Top Dentist” by Texas Monthly Magazine, as well as Houston Magazine.

Registered Dental Hygienists Britney Crank, Brandi Yackel, Amanda Curnan, Amanda Kitzmiller, Debbie Snelling and Kendra Moseley.

Registered Dental Hygienists Britney Crank, Brandi Yackel, Amanda Curnan, Amanda Kitzmiller, Debbie Snelling and Kendra Moseley.

Now a resident of Sugar Land, where his wife Teena, owner of 2250 Interiors & Gifts in Sugar Land’s Town Square, is a successful interior designer and where the couple raised their only child, daughter Lauren, 28. Caldwell originally opened his practice in Alief in 1981, moving to Sugar Land in 1995.

“When I first started in dental school, I thought that I wanted to be an orthodontist,” Caldwell remembered.  “Then I thought I wanted to be an oral surgeon. But the thing that sold me on pediatric dentistry was that you develop a real relationship with these kids.

“One of the things you learn right away – at least, I learned right away – is that you have to like people,” said Caldwell. “I like people; I like to talk to people, and I enjoy talking to kids in particular. There’s nothing better than to see a three- or four-year-old come in scared and watch him relax and gain self-confidence,” Caldwell explained.  “It’s just a question of building the confidence. In children’s dentistry,” he continued, “we are in the memory business. These kids are going to go to a dentist for the rest of their lives.  Are they going to have good memories about going to a dentist or bad memories? That’s up to us.”

“The people at Dr. Caldwell’s are the kindest people I’ve ever met,” Jill Peschel stated emphatically. “They’re genuine.  It’s nice to be in that kind of environment.”

Peschel, a Sugar Land resident and former teacher, said she’s never taken her three children – daughters Bella, 3, and nine-year-old Gracie, as well as son Caden, 11 – to any other dentist.

“One of the things I like,” Peschel revealed, “is that I feel he’s thorough, but he won’t do something that doesn’t need to be done. I appreciate that.”

Meet Dr. Derek Steinbring

150-derekFor Dr. Larry Caldwell, “paying it forward” doesn’t mean only his family, patients and community, even though that would be enough for most people. Caldwell also gives back by encouraging the rising young stars of his own profession.

“We’ve had associates for about 11 years now,” Caldwell said. “We’ve had six associates over the years. They work with us, and eventually, they leave to start their own practice. That’s what we expect them to do – that’s what I did.”

Even so, Caldwell is particularly careful to select his associates with a serious eye toward finding work partners who fit in well with his patients, their families and his staff. “It’s my personality to want to make a child comfortable, to do what’s best for the child, not what’s best for me,” he said. “Our new associate is Dr. Derek Steinbring. He started July 6th, and he’s great.”

A graduate of Texas A&M University in College Station where he earned his undergraduate degree in animal science, Steinbring, like Caldwell, is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Dentistry and followed with a two-year residency in pediatric dentistry at the University of Texas School of Dentistry in Houston through affiliations with Texas Children’s Hospital and Memorial Hermann Children’s Hospital, ending in 2015. In 2013, Steinbring was awarded the Certificate of Merit American Association of Pediatric Dentists Pre-Doctoral Student Award for outstanding promise in the field of pediatric dentistry.

A native Texan born and raised in Fredericksburg, Steinbring is a member of the Greater Houston Dental Society, Houston Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, Texas Dental Association, Texas Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

A fan of the outdoors, Steinbring plays golf, fishes, hunts and runs when he isn’t spending time with his wife Holly, and their dog, Riley.

“The kids absolutely love him,” Caldwell smiled, “and he’s even been known to sing a little bit.”

For more information about Drs. Caldwell and Steinbring, visit or call 281-565-KIDS (5437).

Conservative treatment is something Caldwell feels passionate about when caring for his young patients. “I’m conservative in treatment,” Caldwell elaborated. “My personality is to get the child comfortable and do what’s best for the child, not what’s best for me. For instance, if we have a cavity in a tooth that’s about ready to fall out, we simply will leave the tooth alone.”

Certified Assistants Crissy Perez, Anne Pencak, Emily Lucas and Pam Barker.

Certified Assistants Crissy Perez, Anne Pencak, Emily Lucas and Pam Barker.

Convenience is also important to Caldwell’s philosophy of care.  With four hygienists’ stations working at once, a four-child family can have the children’s teeth all cleaned at once, the dentist pointed out.

“When I look at the way I practice, I’m always looking for areas to improve,” Caldwell explained. “We now have porcelain crowns for children; they no longer have stainless steel in them.  Kids love them because they look like their own teeth.  We’ve also changed the makeup of the local anesthetic we use, which is new to dentistry.  We can numb the mouth with less anesthetic. The kids can’t tell they’re getting a shot, and they aren’t numb as long. The process is called buffering. We are actually changing the pH so the anesthetic is the same pH as is normal in the mouth. It takes effect immediately, so we don’t have to wait, and the patient is more comfortable.”

According to Caldwell, who can also reverse the effects of local anesthesia or numbing before the child leaves his office, there are three scenarios he can offer when it comes to anesthetics.

“We have nitrous oxide, what we used to call laughing gas. We have oral medicine, which actually just relaxes the patient – takes the edge off – without putting them to sleep, and there’s intravenous (IV) sedation.  With IV sedation, an anesthesiologist comes in and monitors the anesthetic.  We find the last one works well with special needs children,” Caldwell said.

Having served a portion of his residency at the Richmond State School, Caldwell welcomes special needs youngsters to his office. “You just have to figure out the best way to treat them,” he said. “I’m very comfortable with special needs children.”

Also included in Caldwell’s services are laser soft tissue removal and high-speed, digital x-rays, the use of which keeps treatment moving along smoothly.

Community Service and Education

As part of an ongoing program to help make youngsters feel comfortable with the dentist, Tillie the Tooth made her debut about 25 years ago.  Dental hygienist Debbie Snelling steps into the molar costume and visits public and private schools each year.

“We see between 7,500 and 10,000 kids each year with the program,” the dental memory-maker said.  “It actually started out with just me going to different daycare centers and teaching the kids about how to take care of their teeth. Debbie’s daughter, who is also a hygienist, helps Debbie out. They have a dialogue about keeping your teeth healthy for a lifetime in a fun and entertaining way.”

On the one Saturday during the month, the dental office is open, and Caldwell hosts “Smile School,” a complimentary open event during which youngsters learn dental hygiene.  “We show the kids how to brush and floss, talk about a nutritional diet that’s good for their teeth – we cover good dental hygiene totally, usually from about noon until 1 pm,” Caldwell said.

Fully involved in his community, Caldwell also sponsors youngsters’ sports teams, holds children’s art contests as well as a toy drive at Christmas, among other community efforts. “I can’t sponsor everything that comes along,” he said, “but I can help. I do think you have to give back to the community for what they give you. I remember we made mouth guards for all of the players on one team, and one dad told me, ‘That’s better than any donation.’”

The Caldwell Difference

200-bookInventor of The Harp, a flossing device designed for children with braces, Larry Caldwell, D.D.S. is known as an innovator in the field of pediatric dentistry.  Always searching for a solution to a problem, Caldwell’s determination to make a difference in the lives of his patients sets both him – and his practice – apart.

“Kids with braces just won’t floss,” explained Caldwell. “It’s just too difficult. Rather than see a decline in their dental health while they are in braces because they won’t floss, I wanted to be proactive and present a sound alternative. Now with The Harp, flossing is easy and effective.”

When a child visits Larry Caldwell, D.D.S. and Associates, the difference becomes clear. Not only do they provide comprehensive care for all of a child’s pediatric dental needs, they do it with compassion, consistent care, conservative invasive treatment and of course, a smile.  Services provided by Larry Caldwell, D.D.S. and Associates include:

• Specializing in Children and Children with Special Needs • Offers Various Oral Health Education Programs, In-Office and Community Based • Intravenous Sedation • Anesthesia Reversal • Laser Soft Tissue Removal • White Zirconium Crowns • High Speed Digital X-Rays • Conservative Treatment Planning • Insurance Filed as a Courtesy

For more information about Larry Caldwell, D.D.S. and Associates, call 281-565-KIDS (5437) or visit For more information about The Harp and to view an instructional video, visit

A Philosophy of Invention

While letting his creativity take the reins, Caldwell developed and patented an orthodontic flossing device he named The Harp. “Kids with braces have a hard time flossing their teeth,” Caldwell explained. “It’s a lengthy process which can take 10 to 15 minutes, and no kid wants to spend that amount of time on flossing his or her teeth.  With The Harp, we can cut that time down to 30 seconds, and they can floss with one hand.”  The Harp orthodontic flosser has been a very successful product for Caldwell and is currently available online at

“I have other ideas, too,” Caldwell admitted. “I enjoy the creative part of it, and the motivation is to help improve a person’s life.”

His patients’ motivation, however, and that of their families, may just be that they feel Caldwell’s office has precisely the right kind of environment. “He’s warm, quiet, very kind and gentle with the kids,” Peschel summarized. “My kids love going to the dentist. How could it be any better?”