The Tragedy of Horace Wells


Horace Wells, an American dentist, tried to introduced Nitrous oxide to medicine in the 1800s. This was a time before modern anesthesia and before the age of antibiotics. Pain was a major limiting factor in surgery and it was something many patients simply had to deal with.

After Wells saw a demonstration of the gas in 1844, he became very interested in the substance. He introduced it to his own dental practice and successfully trialed the drug with patients.

When he attempted to bring it to the attention of the Boston, Massachusetts (US) medical community, he failed. A public demonstration of the anesthetic didn’t go as planned and Wells was practically laughed out of Boston.

This contributed to Wells’ life ending in tragedy, not fame or respect.