Julia Roberts may have been the undisputed Oscar-night star, but Ted Aspes was the center of attention the next morning. "When I came to work, there were two families in the parking lot waiting for me," recalls the 54-year-old Smyrna, Ga., pediatric dentist, who treated Roberts in the late '70s. "They put their arms out and said, 'Pay up, Dr. Ted!' "

The group was there to hold Aspes to a promise he had first made 26 years ago: If any patient of his ever won an Olympic medal, a Heisman trophy, an Oscar or other prestigious award, he would give a tube of toothpaste to every child in Smyrna, pop. 41,000. Fortunately, Aspes, married and the father of two grown sons, was ready. As sure of the actress's win (for Erin Brockovich) as any Vegas oddsmaker, he had ordered 10,000 tubes of Crest a week earlier. Within five days, he had handed out half of them, with more kids coming by his office every day.

Though Roberts's Oscar win has cost him about $3,500 in Crest, Aspes, who says he deserves "just a little" credit for Roberts's $20 million smile, is now focused on inspiring more recent patients to take him up on his promise. Nine-year-old gymnast Macy Hyatt plans to collect. "I hope someday I'll earn an Olympic medal," she says, "and Dr. Ted will have to give out another 10,000 tubes of toothpaste."