The safety of amalgam restorations has been challenged, claims having been made that health risks are associated with the constituent mercury. There are assertions that mercury released from amalgam produces mercury poisoning, and is thus responsible for diverse symptoms of impaired health as well as disease states such as Multiple Sclerosis. This study examines the various forms of mercury and their effects and attempts particularly to delineate the significance of dental amalgam as a factor in hypersensitivity reactions and in the human body burden of mercury. Dental personnel are evaluated as a potentially high-risk group for mercury exposure. Dental amalgam and alternative restorative materials are considered, the removal of amalgam being evaluated as a therapeutic modality. The “anti-amalgam” perspective is scrutinised and the validity of the claims assessed. A review of the scientific literature, and the statements of national and international dental and scientific literature, and the statements of national and international dental and scientific organisations reflect the general support for the safety of dental amalgam. There is no evidence that health risks are associated with the use of dental amalgam other than rare local allergic reactions and oral lichenoid lesions. Notwithstanding the usefulness and safety of dental amalgam certain recommendations and conclusions are made in respect of future approaches to the utilisation of this material and for mercury in general. Further objective scientific research is necessary to determine the effects on human health of chronic exposure to low levels of mercury. There is the need for accurate general population threshold levels to be established for mercury vapour with special consideration for the vulnerable members of the community. The health professions have a significant role to play in providing informed opinion and advice for their patients and the public, in countering the more eccentric claims of the anti-amalgamists and assuaging the anxiety and confusion which accompanies this subject.