The study of dental evidence is a form of storytelling, revealing characters, settings, even plotlines of lives. Identification of individuals, ancestry, race, ethnicity, diets, prevailing diseases, causes of death, environmental surroundings, migratory patterns, cultural habits and behaviors—all can theoretically be determined by a single tooth.
Hatshepsut reigned in the 15th century BCE.
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She bore him a daughter, Neferure, but no sons. Hatshepsut acted as regent for the young king, but by the time he was seven, she had been crowned king herself. She was thirty years old. There is no explanation as to how Hatshepsut succeeded in changing roles and assuming the throne. She surely would have had to get the support of the ruling elite.
It is known that surrounding her were a group of loyalists controlling key positions in her government. While speculation has swirled through the centuries that they were romantically involved, there is no evidence to substantiate this. Hatshepsut ruled during a period of great peace and prosperity in Egypt, expanding trade and launching massive building projects of grand design. However, when she passed away, all evidence of her reign was, for some unknown reason, erased.
Written records were destroyed as were monuments to her rule. It was assumed that her stepson Thutmose III had resented her appropriation of the throne and had her killed in order to ascend in his own right. Until the cause of her death was found, the mystery would remain. Enter Dr. Zahi Hawass, a well-known Egyptologist and archaeologist. The Discovery Channel later contacted him about appearing in a documentary on Queen Hatshepsut, hopefully to find her remains.
He began searching in various tombs seeking clues to the location of her mummy. The only evidence provided by that mummy was that she appeared to have been obese. After searching through other tombs, Hawass did what all great detectives do. He went over the evidence again, looking for that one clue that would break the case wide open. I considered possible places where we could search for clues that would shed light on the identity of the mummies that we were studying.
To our surprise, in addition to what appeared to be the remains of a human internal organ, the bundle in the box contained a molar tooth, to which a single root was still attached. Right away, we carefully examined the CT scans of the four unidentified female mummies to see whether one of them was missing a tooth. To our delight, KVA, the obese mummy from the Valley of the Kings, had an empty socket in her jaw — Galal El-Behri, a dentist from Cairo University, was able to determine that the socket was a perfect fit for the tooth in the box! As early as , Egyptologist Elizabeth Thomas had suggested that KVA might be the mummy of the great female pharaoh.
Now, modern forensic science was finally able to prove that this idea was true! An abscessed tooth that was pulled. Despite having cancer, osteoporosis, possible diabetes and being obese  , she died in excruciating pain from an infected tooth at the age of This also answered the question of whether political intrigue could have led to her death. There was no foul play. So it was dynastic politics that attempted to toss Hatshepsut—the long-lost queen considered more powerful in her time than Cleopatra or Queen Nefertiti—into the dustbin of history.
Fun as it was, ether had a darker side too. He also observed that his friends would sometimes do things that would have hurt them e. On March 30, , Venable consented to having one of the cysts removed while under the influence of ether. Venable felt no pain during the procedure, and in fact did not believe that the cyst had been removed until Long showed it to him. In January , Long removed two fingers from Isam Baily, one with ether, and one without. The procedure without anaesthetic, which was the normal practice of the day, was understandably painful.
The procedure with anaesthetic was painless. Charles T. Jackson during a visit to Athens, Georgia, but were not reported in an article until It is worthwhile to remember that in the s, pain and surgery were considered to be chimeric. Some of the townspeople of Jefferson even considered Long to be a witch. Elijah Pope. He noticed the diminution of pain while under the influence of the vapour. In January , he used this knowledge to anaesthetize an uncooperative woman who was having a tooth extracted by Pope.
Both Clarke and Pope thought that her unconsciousness was the result of her hysteria and not the ether-soaked towel that had been placed over her mouth. Because of this belief, they did not publish a record of this event. Later, Clarke told his colleagues about the appointment, making this the first use of ether as an anaesthetic. Charles Thomas Jackson was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts in to a family of high standing.
He received his MD from Harvard College in In , after accidentally exposing himself to chlorine gas while preparing a demonstration and lecture on Vesuvius, he inhaled ether as an antidote; ether was believed to have medicinal properties for the lungs. Later that night, with his lungs still irritated, he inhaled ether again, this time putting himself into a state of unconsciousness.
William T. Morton in Boston.
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William Thomas Green Morton was a dentist in practice if not by degree, as he left the College of Dental Surgery in Baltimore before he completed his studies. He later registered at the medical school in Harvard, but withdrew early from there too. Morton knew that ether could provide analgesia if dropped or sprayed onto the skin, he also became aware of its properties as an inhaled anaesthetic. Ether was also safer in that surgical anaesthesia could be achieved at a low enough concentration, as a vapour, that hypoxia was not a concern. Again, in accordance with the thinking of the day, the properties of ether were not initially applied to anaesthesia, but rather to analgesia.
By , Morton briefly had entered into a short-lived partnership in dentistry in Boston with Dr. Horace Wells after being taught by him in Hartford, Connecticut. Horace Wells was born in in Hartford, Vermont. He had descended from good stock with his ancestors among the first settlers of Vermont. His parents were cultured, wealthy land owners who were willing and able to provide amply for their three sons.
Wells began to study dentistry as an apprentice in In , he moved to Hartford, Connecticut and quickly established a successful practice. He was an early advocate of preventive and restorative dentistry and got along well with children. Still, this was the mids, so much of his practice involved the extraction of teeth.
His compassionate and religious ways led to great unease with the suffering that he inflicted on some of his patients. Gardner Quincy Colton was born in Georgia, Vermont in , the youngest of twelve children. His family was poor and deeply religious. I think I did not have an overcoat till I was near twenty years of age. Nitrous oxide, of course, was known to medical students, and Colton could lecture on it and demonstrate it since he had the knowledge and ability to make it.
It was, in fact, Samuel Colt, the creator of the Colt revolver gun, but the entrepreneurial die had been cast. The financial success of his first exhibition in led him to present more exhibitions throughout New England. Encouraged by his wife to attend, Horace Wells and a friend, Sam Cooley, attended and were in the first group of ten to try the gas.
During his recovery from his dose of nitrous oxide, Wells noticed that Cooley, who was sitting beside him, had blood on his pants.
This was the result of Cooley plowing into a wooden settee onstage during his own nitrous oxide-induced antics. When asked about what had happened, Cooley did not remember the incident at all as the pain began to set it. After more successful dental and medical trials in Hartford, Dr. Wells took his discovery to Boston and contacted Dr. The intended surgery was the removal of a tumour, but that patient backed out of the surgery for fear of the anticipated pain. The replacement patient ended up being a medical student who was in the audience.
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The gas was probably not administered correctly because of an equipment malfunction or maybe even nervousness on the part of Wells. In any case, the damage had been done; the patient had not been rendered insensible to surgery. Wells immediately left the theatre in shame. Afterward the patient claimed to have felt nothing, but the audience did not accept this. The demonstration was deemed an utter failure. And with that, nitrous oxide was sent back to the students and socialites. Horace Wells never really recovered from this public failure, and by April had given up his dental practice.
In , Wells had to suffer through Ether Day and the subsequent claims by Morton his former student and Jackson his former teacher , that they should each exclusively be recognized as the discoverer of anesthesia. His request was refused. In an interesting piece of prisoner supervision, Wells was allowed to go home to collect some personal effects before returning to jail. Among these effects were a bottle of chloroform and a razor. Once in the jail cell, Wells inhaled chloroform, severed his femoral artery and on January 24, , died at the age of Jackson reportedly suggested trying ether as an inhalant as opposed to a topical or ingested anaesthetic.
By September, he was using ether on patients in his office. On October 16, , the only operation scheduled at Massachusetts General Hospital for the day was the removal of a neck tumour by Warren himself. Scheduled for a. Morton was late, as he was frantically putting the finishing touches on his new ether inhaler that had been constructed only the night before.
What followed in the next few years was a bitter and protracted legal and personal tripartite battle between Wells, Morton and Jackson for recognition as the founder of anaesthesia. At different levels, this battle killed each of them.
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As previously noted, Wells committed suicide in By that time he had applied to the U. Long was not involved in this battle and died on June 16, at the age of 62 from a cerebral haemorrhage. Capitol recognizing him as the discoverer of sulphuric ether as an anaesthetic.
Both medicine and society were slow to accept this new, mysterious and fantastic approach to healthcare. This changed when Dr.
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Since Queen Victoria was the head of the Church, the religious debate over the appropriateness of anaesthesia was effectively ended. The story continues… OH. Peter Nkansah is a dentist-anaesthesiologist with a private practice in Toronto. He is also Past President of the Canadian Academy of Dental Anaesthesia, an international lecturer, and a member of the teaching staff in the Discipline of Anaesthesia at the Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto.
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Accesse d November 26, Norris, S and T. Accessed November 20,