Born: January 21, 1815 (Hartford, Connecticut)
Died: January 24, 1848 (New York City, New York)
Famous For/Known For:
Dentist and developer of dental anesthesia.
A Little About Horace Wells:
Born to Horace Wells and Betsey (Heath) Wells.
Wells obtained his dental education through visual learning by closely watching several practicing dentists.
In 1836, Wells opened his dental practice in Hartford, Connecticut. His business developed into a successful one.
In 1844, Wells attended a stage show in which he watched “Professor” Gardner Quincy Colton administer nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to an acquaintance for entertainment purposes. When the man injured his leg in the process and showed no sign of pain Wells recognized how the chemical compound helped diminish pain.
Wells decided to experiment with nitrous oxide to see if it would help with dental pain and the first patient would be himself. Since a wisdom tooth of his had been bothering him he would have it removed. While his dental partner extracted the tooth, Colton administered nitrous oxide. The procedure was a success.
So that he could offer this pain free alternative to his patients, Wells asked Colton to teach him how to make and administer nitrous oxide.Wells performed several extractions using this type of anesthesia with great results.
With the encouragement from a former student, William Morton, Wells demonstrated his approach to pain free dentistry at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1845. Unfortunately for Wells, the patient in the demonstration found no relief from the nitrous oxide. His claim, at the time, was found to be false and he was ridiculed.
Wells then started to self-experiment with many chemicals such as nitrous oxide, ether, and chloroform. One day,addicted and deranged due to his experimentation, he threw acid at some people on the street ending up with his being arrested.
Although his claim about nitrous oxide had already been acknowledged in France, it took years for it to be recognized in the U.S.
Horace Wells committed suicide at the age of 33.
Books About/Written By Horace Wells:
The Strange and True Tale of Horace Wells, Surgeon Dentist : A Novel
Horance Wells – On Nitrous Oxide
The Life and Letters of Horace Wells: Discoverer of Anesthesia
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