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General anesthesia and some history

Before anesthesia came in to practice, it was a nightmare to have a tooth extracted. Patients had to suffer the pain and dentists could not do much about it.

Thanks to the work of one dentist, patients no longer have to suffer pain now. They can sit comfortably in a dental chair without feeling distressed or depressed.

Oliver Wendell Homes Sr, was an American physician and poet who introduced the term anesthesia in 1846. The term refers to the process of blocking or removing the pain sensations temporarily. It may also refer to lack of awareness which is reversible. This lack of awareness can be total or partial

Early men used coca leaves, opium and alcohol for anesthetics. Herbal preparations were popular but they had a serious drawback; if they were used too little, they were not of much use and if they were given too much, they could potentially kill a person.

Humphrey Davy who was a British chemist discovered in 1799, that laughing gas or nitrous oxide has anesthetic qualities. Because it causes hallucinations and euphoria, this non-flammable, colorless gas which has a slightly sweet pleasant odor was also used for entertainment and recreational purposes.

The use of the laughing gas in dentistry was pioneered in 1844 by Horace Wells who was a dentist in Hartford, Connecticut. He saw the effects of the gas and realized that its potential as an anesthetic. He tested the gas on himself

Wells saw a public demonstration of laughing gas, at a traveling show. It was for the amusement of people. Wells soon tested it as an anesthetic on himself and asked one of his colleagues to extract one of his molars. When he woke up he told that he did not feel any pain and with that a new era in dentistry had arrived.

Wells was very excited at his discovery and he started using it on his patients. In 1845 he demonstrated the use of laughing gas as anesthetic at the Massachusetts General Hospital located in Boston. However, the presentation backfired as a result of using wrong dose. It caused the volunteer scream due to pain. Some other sources say that it was the shock, not pain which caused the patients to scream. Anyhow, it did not go will with medical community and they discredited Wells.

Wells was disgruntled and gave up dentistry to start a new life. He became a traveling salesman and started selling shower baths, canaries and similar household items. William Thomas Green Morton was a former partner of Wells. He successfully used laughing gas to extract the tooth of one of his patients named Eben frost. However, he decided to use diethyl ether in the public demonstration instead of the laughing gas. He made demonstration on 16 October, 1846 in the same hospital in which wells carried out his demonstration. The demonstration was successful.

As Morton became successful he contacted his old colleague Wells and hired him to for the promotion of this new anesthetic. When Wells was in Europe, things got worse for him as he got addicted to chloroform.

According to the Wikipedia editors, Wells once went out in the street and threw sulfuric acid on the clothing of prostitutes. He was sent to the Tombs Prison of New York. Once Wells was free of the influence of chloroform, his mind cleared and he realized his wrongdoings. He committed suicide by slitting an artery of his leg after inhaling chloroforms analgesic dose to avoid feeling pain.

But, Wells did not die in vain and his discovery revolutionized dentistry. It paved the way for modern anesthesia’s development. Wells was honored by the American Dental Association in 1864 and his efforts were recognized by the American Medical Association in 1870.

At Peace Park Dental you can have regular dentistry checkups as well as other treatments in a comfortable and stress-free environment. We highly value the comfort of clients and appropriate use of anesthetics coupled with excellent services and environment ensure that the patients are pain free, satisfied and happy.

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