Charles Crowder met Kristen Flowers at a fraternity party in 1995, when the two were undergrads at Birmingham-Southern College.

Kristen, a competitive collegiate tennis player intent on going to dental school, invited Charles, a baseball player also keen on pursuing medicine, to her Kappa Delta sorority party. 

Crowder Picture news“We still have the professional picture that was taken at that sorority party, dated September 30, 1995,” explained Charles. “It’s easy to remember when we started dating because our first child, Mason, was born exactly ten years later to the day!”

Kristen always knew she wanted to follow in the footsteps of her father, Dr. John Flowers (’72), and become a pediatric dentist. “She’d help out at his office when she was younger, and she especially enjoyed work involving children and patients with special needs,” Charles said of his wife.

Charles, on the other hand, needed a bit more direction. He knew he wanted to pursue medicine, but it was an internship with the School of Dentistry and Dr. David Greer (’59) that helped him find his niche. “I was good with my hands, and that internship helped me realize that dentistry would be the best fit for me.”

Even though Kristen was a year ahead of Charles, she spent a year researching in a lab at the School, so the two began their first year of dental school classes together in 1998. They were married between their junior and senior years, in 2001.

“After we graduated, Kristen immediately entered her Pediatric Dentistry Residency. She just always knew exactly what she wanted to do,” recalls Charles. “It took me a bit longer to figure out, though. My first two years in dental school, I was just thankful to have gotten in! Around my junior year, though, I thought I might want something more. It was actually Kristen’s dad, Dr. Flowers, who is dual-trained in pedo and ortho, who influenced my decision to pursue orthodontics.”

But Charles also knew he had his work cut out for him if he wanted to get into an orthodontic residency program. “While Kristen completed her residency, I did a General Practice Residency at UAB with Dr. John Coke. Then, at night and on weekends, I also completed a master’s in Public Health at UAB. It was a way for me to show my commitment and maintain an academic record during my GPR residency. I knew I had to prove that I was a serious student.”

The couple’s hard work paid off – in 2004, they moved to Philadelphia as Charles entered his Orthodontic Master’s Program and Residency at the University of Pennsylvania while Kristen went to work in a family-owned children’s clinic.  

After Charles was finished, the Crowders traded in the busy, bustling city life of Philadelphia for the quieter, family-friendly community of Dothan, Ala where Kristen grew up. Naturally, she joined her father’s practice while Charles bought Dr. Andrew Carter’s orthodontic practice. “I was very ready to work, but didn’t really know how to run a business, so there were some growing pains in the beginning. I had to learn how to retain the continuity of treatment with Dr. Carter’s existing patients, while figuring out my own way of practicing that best suited me,” Charles said.  

Charles has enjoyed watching his wife thrive in her career. “Kristen is really gifted at calming a child’s anxiety over going to the dentist. She doesn’t even have a papoose in her office. Instead, she earns their trust and makes them feel totally comfortable so that they actually let her give them the treatment they need.” 

Both Charles and Kristen are grateful for how they have touched so many young people’s lives through their careers. For Kristen, her work with special needs patients is especially rewarding. As for Charles, he loves being able see his patients grow up, and their self-esteem blossom. And he understands their appreciation for his work on a personal level, too. “I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if my own parents hadn’t sacrificed to pay for my braces. And Kristen wouldn’t be married to me if I still had crooked teeth like I did when I was a kid! She would have been way out of my league!” Charles teased.

With three children, – Mason (15), Riley (13), and Brooklyn (7) – the Crowder family is as busy as ever. Weekends are spent traveling the country for golf and tennis tournaments, and when they can squeeze it in, the family enjoys relaxing at the beach or skiing in Big Sky, Montana. Still, Charles and Kristen remain committed to the community in Dothan. Kristen’s grandmother, Beryl Flowers, began a tradition of inviting local dentists to her house for soup many years ago when her son, John, began his practice. Today, dentists in the area still look forward to the annual Dothan Soup Luncheon each January, which is now held at the Dothan Country Club in order to accommodate for so many attendees. One glance around the crowded ballroom, and it’s clear how much of a positive impact the Flowers and Crowder families have had on the dental community in Dothan.