AVAILABLE 24 HOURS A DAY!
1-866-992-4165
   
   
Dentist located in: OR
Dentistry.com dental articles & forum
Home Conditions Treatments Dental Daily Care Dental Forum Product Showcase Are You a Dentist?
Looking for a
Dentist for Sedation?
Do you have dental coverage?
    
Home > Dental Treatments > Sedation Dentistry > History of General Anesthesia and Dental Surgery
Bookmark and Share

History of General Anesthesia and Dental Surgery

 
General Anesthesia History

One of the most fascinating books that I have ever read is "The 100 - A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History" by Michael Hart. In his book, Hart ranks historical figures in order of their influence on mankind. The book discusses a brief history of the influential figure, why they were important, and justifies their "rank" in history. Hart chronicles historical giants including Newton, Einstein, Jesus, Muhammad, Aristotle, Columbus, Edison and many others. Dr. William T. G. Morton is the only dentist included on the list, and is considered by Hart to be the 37th most influential person in human history.

Dr. William Morton, a Massachusetts dentist, was looking for a way to painlessly extract teeth. As a dentist practicing in the 1840's, there was no local or general anesthesia available to make removing teeth tolerable. Although Dr. Morton knew about nitrous oxide from his association with another dentist, Dr. Horace Wells, he wanted a more powerful agent. He discussed the problem with Dr. Charles T. Jackson, a physician and scientist who suggested that he try ether.

Dr. Morton liked the idea and began experimenting with his pet dog and then himself. After he developed a comfort level with the anesthetic, an opportunity arose for him to try ether on a patient. On September 30, 1846, a man named Eben Frost came to his office fearful and with a terrible toothache. Frost allowed Dr. Morton to extract his tooth under the influence of ether and it was a complete success. Frost had felt no pain. Now Dr. Morton was ready to share his knowledge and risk his reputation in a public demonstration at Massachusetts General Hospital. At the hospital, Dr. Morton, acting as the anesthetist, administered ether while surgeon Dr. John C. Warren removed a tumor from his patient's neck. Like before, the operation was an overwhelming success.

Word soon spread of Dr. Morton's demonstration, and the use of ether as a general anesthetic became widely adopted. Although Dr. Morton deserves most of the credit for introducing ether and general anesthesia to the world, he never received the recognition or any financial rewards for his discovery. Today, physicians and dentists use other types of agents for general anesthesia, but for nearly a century, ether was the anesthetic of choice to put people to sleep during surgical procedures.

I believe that author Michael Hart has best put into perspective the importance of Dr. Morton's contribution. "Few inventions in all of history are so highly valued by individual human beings as anesthetics. The grimness of surgery in the days when a patient had to be awake while a surgeon sawed through his bones is frightful to contemplate. The ability to put an end to this kind of pain is certainly one of the greatest gifts that any man ever gave to his fellows."

Remember, only a dentist can diagnose your dental problems and offer the right treatment plan for you. If you need a dentist, call us at 1-866-970-0441 to be connected with one today.

Bad Breath
Bruxism
Cavities
Cleft Palate
Cold Sores
Dental Anxiety
Dental Emergency
Gum Disease
Malocclusion
Mouth Problems
Oral Cancer
Sleep Apnea
Teeth Problems
TMJ & TMD
Toothache
Wisdom Teeth
See All
Cosmetic Dentistry
Dental Braces
Dental Implants
Dental Restorations
Dentures
Exams & Cleaning
Fillings & Sealants
Gum Disease Treatment
Mouthguards
Oral Surgery
Root Canal Therapy
Sedation Dentistry
Teeth Whitening
Tooth Extractions
Veneers
See All
Dental Financing
Dental Hygiene
Medications
Nutrition Information
Overall Health
Pediatric Dentistry
Senior Dental Care
Your Dentist Visit
See All