A GROUP of Wirral dentists has launched a major drive to show youngsters how to look after their teeth.

The thrust of the initiative is the message: "Don’t forget your toothbrush."

The move comes after national reports this month that tooth decay is by far the biggest reason why primary school children are admitted to hospital.

NHS data has shown that almost 26,000 children in England aged between five and nine, were hospitalised for multiple tooth extractions in 2013-14- almost 500 a week.

Staff at Moreton Dental Care have teamed up with Wirral Community NHS Trust to stage an open day aimed at showing youngsters how to care for their teeth.

Children will be able to join in a wide range of fun activities - all with an oral health theme - at the Hoylake Road practice on Thursday, July 31, from 9am to 1pm.

Games, quizzes, face-painting, interactive education displays and craft activities are being arranged, as well as a toothbrush exchange.

Staff will also be giving advice on healthy eating, and how to clean teeth correctly - with help from cuddly puppet Al E Gator.

Free check-ups and fluoride treatments will also be available on the day, although these need to be booked in advance at the practice.

Practice principal Dr Paul Sherrard said: "The aim of the event is to promote oral health in a fun way, and to encourage youngsters to care for their teeth.

"Dental care is free for all children through the NHS and the earlier they start going to the dentist and learn good oral habits the better."

A health promotion team from Wirral Community NHS Trust will offer support at the event.

Dental leaders say the shocking figures are proof of the damage being done by the over-consumption of sugary drinks and fruit juices.

According to the Health and Social Care Information Centre, which analyses data for NHS England, the number of admissions for dental problems among five to nine-year olds rose from 22,574 in 2010-11 to 25,812 in 2013-14.