Smile Together chair Maria Cockle listening to a talk

Maria Cockle

Non-executive Director and Chair of the Staff Council

In addition to being an access dentist for West Country Dental Care (WCDC), I am a non-executive director of Smile Together and Chair of the company’s Staff Council.

As an access dentist my primary aim is to relieve individuals’ dental pain and treat infections and dental trauma for patients who contact our WCDC service via our dedicated Call Centre. Many people will have put up with toothache for days before they call us, often because they are very anxious about dentistry, and it’s my job to reassure them and carry out their treatment so they leave the surgery happier than when they arrived. Treating anxious patients can be very difficult as the combination of toothache and anxiety often makes people defensive or even aggressive.

My Staff Council role makes me the voice of our workforce at Board level. Smile Together is an employee owned social enterprise and my role is to link the Board with the employee shareholders and vice versa, representing one to the other.

I thoroughly enjoy engaging with people. Every patient has a story to tell and an individual point of view, and I like connecting with all the different personalities who come to the WCDC clinic every day. The same goes for my Staff Council and non-executive director roles, which have given me the opportunity to meet and learn from people from all areas of our business.

Prior to joining Smile Together, I spent many years in general practice working as an associate in my brother’s dental surgery in London. He inspired me into this choice of career, convincing me that I would make a good dentist and that it would be enjoyable.

He was right, and I love the fact that at Smile Together we make a real difference to peoples’ dental health in our day to day clinical work and as a community interest company. I enjoy the teamwork and camaraderie – all working towards a common goal of creating value in our communities.

To someone considering working for Smile Together I would say join us!  Our company is going places and we want to expand our teams of dentists and nurses so we can reach more people in the South West. Smile Together has big dreams with plenty of scope for people with vision and ideas.


Outside of work I love jazz and soul music, growing vegetables, cooking, singing in a choir and walking the Coast Path.

The fun bit

Cats or dogs? Either – but strictly at a distance.

Surfing or sunbathing? Surfing – I’m the one with the old school wooden body-board in the shallows.

Manual or electric toothbrush? Electric every time.

Cornish cider or gin? An ice-cold G&T.

Mini or VW Campervan? Mini convertible whizzing to the coast on a summer day.

Peace and quiet or loud and lively? I like a bit of both.

Flossing or interdental brushing? Flossing – the dance that is….

Full on roast, or salad? Salad – lots of interesting combinations of vegetables, fruit and herbs.

Football or rugby? I prefer tennis to both of these.

Rock or classical? Classical, but jazz is my first love.

Under cover or outside in the elements?

I like to stay warm and dry.