Without knowing anything about your husband's case other than what's mentioned in your comment, here's a way the situation might be interpreted:

You husband has teeth that comparatively speaking "are too small."
Most likely due to the way they have worn down from his being a "heavy grindier," they are shorter than what is ideal. (The amount of tooth structure that extends up into a crown aids in its stability, more is generally better.)

When preparing the teeth the dentist needed to trim away enough for the thickness of the crowns, yet leave the teeth as tall as possible to aid in crown stability.
The statement "hoped she took off enough teeth for the crowns" implies that both issues were on her mind, she thought she had favored the situation of leaving the teeth as tall as possible. She hoped that in doing so the strength (thickness) of the crowns wouldn't be compromised.

The laboratory recognized that the tooth preparations they had to work with (the nubs) were shorter than ideal and therefore thought that retention might be a problem, so they suggested that groups of teeth should all be connected.

Doing so would distribute forces over the back teeth collectively, whereas otherwise some individual teeth might receive too much force and their crown might be dislodged. Also geometrically speaking, having several teeth all connected would tend to aid in restoration stability/retention.

Completing cases often is/should be a collaboration between the dentist and laboratory. Although it seems the collaboration took place less when the case was first planned as opposed to midstream, hence your surprise.

A big difference between individual units and attached ones is the ease with which the patient can floss. Performing oral home care is key in providing a long term successful out come for any dental work.

Zirconia crowns are sold to dentists as a solution for bruxing (tooth grinding) cases because of their great strength. And generally speaking they can be thinner than other types of "porcelain" crowns.

A question might arise about the wisdom of placing Zirconia crowns in the situation where heavy forces are involved and the crown is of only minimal thickness (at the thinner end of what's considered acceptable). However this doesn't seem to be an issue that the dental laboratory brought up, so evidently adequate clearance was created when the teeth were trimmed.

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