To perform a systematic review on the effect of changes in incisor inclination owing to orthodontic treatment and the occurrence of gingival recession. PubMed, EMBASE Excerpta Medica and CENTRAL of the Cochrane Library were searched and a hand search was performed. From 1925 articles identified, 17 articles were finally included: six experimental animal studies and 11 retrospective clinical studies in humans. More proclined teeth compared with less proclined teeth or untreated teeth had in most studies a higher occurrence or severity of gingival recession. Contradictory results were found regarding a possible statistically significant correlation between the extent of gingival recession and the amount of incisor proclination during treatment, width of attached gingiva, hygiene, periodontal condition or thickness of the symphysis. There are no high quality animal or clinical studies on this topic. Movement of the incisors out of the osseous envelope of the alveolar process may be associated with a higher tendency for developing gingival recessions. The amount of recession found in studies with statistically significant differences between proclined and non-proclined incisors is small and the clinical consequence questionable. Because of the low level of evidence of the included studies, the results should be considered with caution. Further randomized clinical studies including clinical examination of hygiene and gingival condition before, during and after treatment are needed to clarify the effect of orthodontic changes in incisor inclination and the occurrence of gingival recession.