​Local authorities in the UK should add fluoride to water supplies, following new research that confirms it has no negative effects.

That is the message from the Oral Health Foundation, which is calling for the introduction of widespread community fluoridation schemes, a move they believe will help protect millions of Brits from tooth decay.

The extensive research, carried out by the National Toxicology Program in the US where 80% of water is fluoridated, states that following years of analysis, there is 'no link between elevated levels of fluoride and cognitive learning deficits'.

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that helps oral health by strengthening the tooth enamel, making it more resistant to tooth decay. It is found in many foods and in all drinking water but usually at levels too low to be beneficial to a person’s oral health.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, says water fluoridation is a safe and highly effective way to significantly reduce health inequalities across the UK: 'The single biggest improvement to oral health in the UK came with the introduction of fluoride into toothpastes and water fluoridation schemes can have an equally positive effect.

'Fluoride not only helps protect the teeth against tooth decay, it also reduces the amount of acid that the bacteria on teeth produce.

'The addition of fluoride to water has been researched for over 70 years, and water fluoridation has been proven to reduce decay by 40-60%.

'This paper, alongside many others which definitively prove there is no risk to health, should pave the way for local authorities to introduce water fluoridation programmes across the country.'

Tooth decay is the number one reason why children are admitted to hospital in England.

Recent figures from the Local Government Association revealed nearly 43,000 hospital operations to remove unhealthy teeth in children took place last year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the British Dental Association (BDA), amongst many other groups, have long celebrated the benefits of adding fluoride to drinking water.

The CDC even named fluoridation of drinking water to prevent tooth decay as one of ‘Ten Great Public Health Interventions of the 20th Century’.

Earlier this year, Public Health England (PHE) reported that they had proved fluoridation to be a safe and effective public health measure to reduce the severity and frequency of tooth decay.