The aim of this study was to evaluate the damage modes of ceramic systems bonded to dentin under Hertzian indentation. Single-cycle Hertzian contact test over 150-850 N load range was applied randomly to 210 ceramic-dentin bilayer disc specimens of zirconia or IPS Empress II -1 mm, -1.5 mm and of feldspathic porcelain -1 mm, -1.5 mm, -2 mm. Optical microscopy was employed for the identification of quasiplastic mode and radial cracks. Finite element analysis was used to analyze the stress distribution. Our results showed that the degree of damage in both modes evolved progressively and the origin changed with contact load. Stress location and value were consistent with the mechanical test results. It was concluded that microstructure and thickness of the material have a significant effect on the damage modes of ceramic layer systems.