Dr. Clark Browne grew up in Vincent, Ala., a small rural town just outside of Birmingham with a population of about 1400 at the time.

Dr. Clark Browne

“Growing up in the country, I didn’t even know what an orthodontist was! I had no friends in high school or college that had braces.” recalled Dr. Browne. “I had never heard of orthodontics before entering dental school.”

You read that correctly. Dr. Browne, who worked for nearly 45 years as an orthodontist, did not even know the specialty existed until he was in dental school. But while his small town upbringing might not have exposed him to all the areas of dentistry, Dr. Browne was quite familiar with healthcare.

“Both of my parents were physicians.” Dr. Browne explained. “Dad practiced in family medicine and my mother was an OB-GYN. She was the first woman to do an OB-GYN residency at Tulane University Medical School Service and the first woman on the State of Alabama Medical Board of Trustees. Growing up, our house and the Browne-Clark Clinic were in the same building. My parents were basically the only emergency room and medical care for a thirty-mile radius, and served the town twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Patients came with emergencies at all hours of the night and weekends.”

Dr. Browne originally set out to study engineering at the University of Tennessee, but transferred to Auburn University after one year. He chose to major in pre-dentistry after consulting with other dentists who assured him of just how great dentistry was as a career. “After visiting with several dentists, it was clear that they served others, genuinely helped people, had control over their work hours and made a decent living. Because my parents seemed to have little family time as physicians, I knew I wanted to be able to control my work time.”

Clark entered the UAB School of Dentistry in 1970. “Everybody worked extremely hard in dental school,” he said bluntly. “It was not a cakewalk for anyone. I worked three different part time jobs through school to help with expenses. During my freshman year I started working nights and weekends for Dr. Jerry Kitchens, an orthodontist in Hoover, trimming models and making retainers and active removable appliances. This really sparked my interested in orthodontics.”

Prior to that time, the School had a rule that dentists entering the orthodontic residency program had to spend at least two years out in the field practicing general dentistry before applying. The two other UAB School of Dentistry graduates in his residency, Dr. Phil Hardee, and Dr Gil Griggs, spent time after dental school teaching at the School and in the military, respectively. Dr. Browne went straight from dental school into the residency where he was the first dentist, to his knowledge, to do so at UAB. “It was probably due to a lack of any other applicants!” he said.

“Orthodontists seemed to always help patients with their self-esteem, and I knew I wanted to be a part of that,” said Dr. Browne about his decision to pursue the specialty. “There are only a few fields in dentistry or medicine in which one can have influence over function, cosmetics, and self -image on a large scale like orthodontics. And there’s nothing like seeing these patients come out of braces beaming and smiling!”

After a year practicing as an associate, Dr. Browne opened Clark Browne Orthodontics, P.A. in 1977 in Birmingham. He became certified as a Diplomate for the American Board of Orthodontics in 1990. Throughout his career, Clark remained heavily involved in organized orthodontics. He served in various positions, including president for both the Alabama Association of Orthodontists (ALAO) and for the Southern Association of Orthodontists (SAO), as well as for the Birmingham District Dental Society. On top of it all, Dr. Browne taught part-time in the School’s Orthodontic Department for 25 years.

“I really liked being involved and giving back to the profession. Those years were busy practice- and family-wise, but it was also an extremely fruitful time in my life,” Clark said. “I have never known a kinder, more gentlemanly and gentlewomanly group of people than the people I came to know through organized dentistry.”

Dr. Browne eventually sold his practice in 2014 but remained a practicing orthodontist for the next six years, until his retirement in December 2020. He would on occasion fill in for orthodontists who needed an extra hand, or a temporary replacement. During the summer of 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Browne agreed to help out Dr. Jason Bailey in Foley, Ala., filling in for him from August until December while Dr. Bailey was receiving chemo treatment for lymphoma.

“COVID scared the fool out of me, but I treated Dr. Bailey when he was a teenager and I’ve always appreciated Jason as a patient, young man, He even shadowed in my office sometimes later on. He practiced in South Alabama and would visit me on occasion in Birmingham.” said Dr. Browne. “I could only imagine what he, his wife, Heather and their little girls were going through with the lymphoma diagnosis and the COVID-19 pandemic. I knew I had the time and a strong sense that I needed to help him. Jason was such a good person with a young family that I was glad I could help him. I knew he would do the same for me if the situation were reversed. It was a blessing for me, and I am thrilled he is doing so well now and back in the practice groove!”

It’s clear that Dr. Bailey thinks quite highly of Clark as well. “He’s amazing,” Jason said. “He drove down here from Birmingham every week for nearly five months to treat my patients. He deserves all the credit in the world.”

However, Dr. Bailey isn’t the only orthodontist who has been deeply impacted by Dr. Browne’s examples of commitment and genuine kindness. Dr. Browne’s son, Dr. Clayton Browne, decided to go back to dental school and pursue a career in orthodontics, after more than ten years working in finance.

“Clayton called me one day for lunch, and told me he was thinking about going to dental school” recalled Dr. Browne. “I was shocked! He already had a biomechanical degree from Vanderbilt and an MBA from Emory, and I asked him, ‘why not go to law school? It would be less time and less overall expense.’ But he told me he wanted to help people one-on-one, and he enjoyed working with his hands. I told him he would make a great dentist and that I supported him one hundred percent.”

Now that he’s retired, Dr. Browne enjoys more time hunting, fishing, and with his family. He and his wife, Kathy, love being “Kacky” and “Gdaddy” to their six grandchildren. Dr. Browne is grateful to look back on his long career knowing he poured himself into being the best orthodontist he could be. “I’d tell any young dentist to give every day your best, 100 percent. Then, at the end of their career, they can look back with satisfaction knowing they did the absolute best job that they could every day. There is nothing more gratifying than knowing you gave it your best.”

If you would like to nominate a UAB School of Dentistry alumnus to be featured in an upcoming Alumni Spotlight, please email Elizabeth Carlson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..