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Horace Wells

From Academic Kids

Horace Wells (January 21, 1815 - January 24, 1848) was an American dentist who pioneered the use of anesthesia in dentistry, specifically nitrous oxide or laughing gas.

After obtaining a degree in dentistry, Wells set up a practice in Hartford, Connecticut, with an associate named William T.G. Morton, who would become famous for his use of ether as an anesthesia on October 18, 1846.

Wells first bore witness to the effects of laughing gas in 1844 when he volunteered to have it demonstrated on him by Gardiner Quincy Colton, a member of a travelling circus. Wells felt nothing, and began utilising it on his own patients.

He gave a demonstration at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston in 1845. However, the gas was improperly administered and the patient cried out in pain. Because of this, Wells was discredited in the medical community.

After this disgrace, Wells gave up dentistry and became a travelling salesman for the next two years, wandering Connecticut and selling canaries, shower baths and other household items. In 1847, he left for Paris after being given a demonstration on anesthesia by his prosperous former partner, William Morton.

While in Europe, selling anesthesia for Morton and acting as an European expert on the subject, Wells became addicted to chloroform. He committed suicide in prison in 1848.

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