We used DosiVox to evaluate the impact of cement thickness on the dose effectively absorbed by the enamel layer. Until now, the thickness of the dental tissues adjacent to the enamel layer was not considered by any of the most widely used combined US-ESR dating programs (DATA and USESR). Instead, if adjacent tissues are present, their thickness is by default assumed to be sufficient to fulfill the infinite matrix conditions.
Our result suggest that such an assumption may represent in first instance a fair approximation of the reality, as even with a thickness of only 1 mm, the cement contributes to at least 98% of the beta dose rate coming from the outer side of the enamel layer. However, when cement is < 1 mm thick, DATA or USESR would overestimate the external beta dose rate and the value should be corrected accordingly by considering the relative contribution of the sediment. The impact of this correction on the total dose rate may vary, as it is directly dependent on the radioactivity of the cement itself, as well as of the sediment or dentine. Our results show that a very thin cement layer (0.1 mm-thick) can significantly contribute to the beta dose rate and should therefore not be neglected. Consequently, based on these results, we recommend the systematic measurement of the thickness of the dental tissues adjacent to the enamel layer during sample preparation, in order to proceed to beta dose rate corrections if necessary. Although this work has been especially focused on the case of fossil teeth showing cement, the conclusions stand for any other geometry involving different dental tissues adjacent to the enamel layer dated by ESR.