The ceramic dental crowns subjected to occlusal contact forces are often idealized as flat multilayers that are deformed by Hertzian contact loading. These multilayer structures consist of a crown-like ceramic layer on the top, an adhesive layer in the middle and the dentin-like substrate. This study examines the crack growth in the bio-inspired dental multilayers and the fracture toughness for the materials used in the functionally graded materials. A layered structure is fabricated by the sequential depositing of nanocomposite materials with filler fraction and type that changes from the side near the soft composite foundation to the side near the hard ceramic top layer to mimic the dentin–enamel junction in natural teeth. The critical load to failure in these bio-inspired structures are shown to be ~30% greater than those in the conventional layered structures with commercially available dental adhesive materials. The effects of FGM layer thickness and architecture on the contact-induced deformation of bio-inspired dental multilayers are investigated. The combined effects of creep in the adhesive and substrate layers and creep-assisted slow crack growth in the ceramic layer are also studied. The fracture toughness of the polymer-ceramic composites that are relevant to the bio-inspired functionally graded multilayers are measured. The critical loads to failure at various clinically relevant loading rates are shown to be well predicted by a creep-assisted slow crack growth model, which integrates the actual mechanical properties that are obtained from nanoindentation experiments and creep tests and the stress predicted by finite element method and Prony series model. The implications of the results are then discussed for the design of robust dental multilayers.