Horace Wells

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Horace Wells (1815 – 1848) was an American dentist who allowed his associate John Riggs to extract a tooth under nitrous oxide anaesthesia in 1844. When he came to demonstrate in 1845 at the Massachusetts General Hospital unhappily the anaesthesia was maladministered causing the patient pain and the medical profession present labelled him as 'humbug'. He gave up dentistry for two years and suicided in New York after probably suffering brain damage in experiments with chloroform that resulted in him throwing acid over two prostitutes. Another dental associate William Morton developed ether as a dental anaesthetic in 1846 and famously this was accepted as 'no humbug' the same year.

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