Should dentist show young child the needle?

Dear Kim,

Do you suggest that the dentist with say a four or five year old child should show the child the needle? I find that most children who do not see it don't even realize it was given to them!


Dear Concerned Parent:

As a matter of practice, I do not show children the needle unless they specifically ask to see it. Younger children usually don't want to see the needle and we just move on with the dental procedure at hand. However, a few children actually ask to see the needle. If this request is initiated by the child, I tell them that I will show them the needle after the "mosquito bite" (injection) is completed. After the injection, I place the plastic cap on the needle and I briefly show it to them. I never let them touch or handle the needle for obvious reasons!

Once, a very clever child asked me to remove the cap. I don't like to dwell on the "needle curiosity" that some children have; however, if they specifically ask, I will take the cap off, show them the needle and quickly move on with the dental procedure. This satisfies their curiousity and builds a trusting relationship. Some dentists will not show a child the needle even if they specifically ask to see it. When the request is handled in this manner, the child thinks that the dentist is trying to hide something from them and they quickly lose confidence in their dentist as a caring, honest health provider.

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